Striking mineworkers hit back at claims by Anglo American Platinum that protesters near its Thembelani mine in Rustenburg are not its employees.
Agitated protesters said they were indeed employed by the giant platinum producer at different mine shafts in Rustenburg. "If it were not for this industrial action, most of us would be deep inside shafts, sweating for Anglo Platinum. Do not be tricked by them," said protester Themba Ngaba.
He and dozens of other protesters showed their Amplats identification cards.
"I am a rock driller for them. Among other things, workers are angered by the sub-standard mageu [fermented mealie-meal energy drink] provided by the company," he said. Ngaba said he had worked for Amplats for seven years.
The protesters are demanding a monthly salary of R12 500.
Another employee, Johannes Molefe, said the mineworkers were struggling to fend for their families. "I am paid R5 900 per month. Imagine how a family man can survive on such a low salary," he said.
He said he had worked for Anglo American Platinum for the past five years. "We are always hungry at work. They give us nothing but sub-standard mageu," said Molefe.
Another protester, Xolisa Ntwana, said the workers were disappointed that Amplats had suggested they were not its employees.
On Wednesday, Amplats insisted protesters gathered near its Thembelani mine in Rustenburg did not work for the mine. "The facts are, our employees are not on strike. The people who are chanting around the mines are from neighbouring communities and we cannot identify who they are," said Amplats spokesperson Mpumi Sithole.
National Union of Mineworkers spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said most staff members had been prevented from going to work due to intimidation by those who were now protesting outside the mine.
"I don't know whether you want to call that a strike, when workers are prevented from going to work and some are protesting," Seshoka said.
A large group of protesters, carrying traditional weapons, gathered at a Thembelani mine shaft on Wednesday morning with police keeping watch.
Five police nyalas and a water cannon were at the scene. A police helicopter hovered overhead. Most of the protesters sat in a field under a scorching sun.
Small groups, clutching sticks and clubs, marched, sang and danced. Some men arrived at the scene wearing ANC Youth League regalia. They joined the protesters but declined to speak to the media about their role in the strike.
Sithole said no memorandum of demands for a wage increase had been given to management by staff members. – Sapa