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18 Feb 2012 07:22
Six striking mine workers were arrested after looting a bottlestore near the Impala Platinum mine in Rustenburg on Friday, North West police said.
“About 3 000 striking workers who had gathered at the mine compound number eight went on the rampage, targeting the bottlestore behind the compound,” said Brigadier Thulani Ngubane.
Ngubane said the group had gathered at the mine on Friday morning and had intended to march to the home of the king of the Royal Bafokeng nation, Kgosi Leruo Molotlegi, to hand over a memorandum.
However, their plans were thwarted by police because they did not have permission to march.
Molotlegi has shares in Impala Platinum.
Ngubane said the situation was calm on Friday night. Police would maintain a heavy presence around Rustenburg to keep watch through the weekend, Ngubane said.
On Thursday, the situation at the mine was hostile and tense, and more than 100 mineworkers were arrested after violent protests.
Ngubane said 500 police officers had secured the mine and succeeded in containing the violence.
The National Union of Mineworkers and management met on Friday to try and broker a deal to end the strike.
The protests began in Phokeng on Thursday, with mineworkers apparently intimidating and assaulting people trying to get to and from work in the township outside Rustenburg.
They barricaded roads heading towards Freedom Park and threw stones at cars and looted shops.
The crowd also torched a satellite police station in Freedom park.
Ngubane said police were not allowed to use rubber bullets to control the crowd following a directive from the police ministry last year.
This was because of concern over the high number of injuries and at least one death associated with the use of rubber bullets for crowd control.
The mineworkers were fired after a dispute over a retention bonus and an illegal strike.
The first to be dismissed were about 5 000 rock drillers, after they refused to accept they would not get the bonus and embarked on an illegal strike.
The rest of the over 17 000 workers were later fired for not being at work.
Impala said it had lost production of 60 000 ounces (1 866kg) since the start of the strike almost a month ago.
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