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Cops distance themselves as Lonmin miners welcome Malema

Sapa

Former ANC Youth League President, Julius Malema asked police to distance themselves from the crowds at the Wonderkop village near Rustenburg.

Women ululated while men who had been seated stood up and clapped their hands when Julius Malema and other ANCYL members and ex-leadership arrived at Wonderkop village near Rustenburg. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

The negotiations between Malema and the police on Saturday came after complaints from Lonmin workers and residents that they felt uncomfortable engaging with Malema with the police there.

Around three police nyalas were parked in the area.

Police heeded Malema's call and moved their vehicles about a kilometre away from the gathering.

Malema arrived in Wonderkop a short while ago.

He was given a warm welcome by the residents and mineworkers when he arrived.

Women ululated while men, who had been seated, stood up and clapped their hands.

Some of the women were waving placards reading: "Julius Malema, Boeremag, please stand up".

One woman who held a placard with that message explained that she meant to send a message to Malema that the boer (white men) have killed their husbands.

She said they wanted Malema to help them.

Shot in the back
Another woman carried a placard reading "R500 reward for killing police, Musina to Cape Town do your best."

She explained that her placard meant that anyone who could kill police officers from the start of the country in Limpopo to the tip of it in the Western Cape would receive a R500 reward.

For the first time, women and men were seated in one gathering since the start of the unrest.

The women were still however, separated from the men by a fence.

Former African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) Spokesperson, Floyd Shivambu and suspended league secretary, Sindiso Magaqa were also present.

Earlier, Shivambu said he understood the pleas of the miners and said the police were wrong to utilise maximum force to disperse them.

"Most of the people were shot at the back, indicating that they were running away so police actions were not justified," he said.

A total of 34 people were killed in a shootout that erupted near the mine on Thursday when police tried to disperse striking miners.

More than 78 people were injured. Another 10 people had by then been killed in the violent protests at the mine over the past week.

President Jacob Zuma visited Lonmin yesterday where he condemned the violence. He called for an inquiry into the incident. – Sapa.

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