Striking Lonmin workers meet

Hundreds of stick-wielding mineworkers gather on the outskirts of Wonderkop village near Marikana in the North West on 14 August 2012. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN.
Hundreds of stick-wielding Lonmin mineworkers gather on the outskirts of Wonderkop village near Marikana in the North West on 14 August 2012. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN.
Police closely monitor protests in Marikana in the North West on 14 August 2012. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN.
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WONDERKOP - As police monitor tensions at Lonmin's Marikana mine in the North West, community members on Tuesday met to discuss events which occured over the last few days. 

An illegal strike by some 3,000 rock drill operators on Friday led to the deaths of at least nine people, including two policemen.

The officers were killed while trying to restore calm at the mine on Monday.

Reports of staff intimidation have also surfaced. It is alleged mineworkers are threatening all Lonmin employees reporting for duty.

Lonmin officials said operations were continuing, but at a reduced capacity.

It is believed rivalry between the National Union of Mineworkers (Num) and upstart union Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) sparked the attacks.

The parties are allegedly fighting for the control of mines in South Africa.

On Tuesday, hundreds of stick-wielding mineworkers gathered on the outskirts of Wonderkop village near Marikana.

It appeared workers were holding a mass meeting and planning their next move.

As more people joined the gathering, a police helicopter monitored the situation from above.

A large police contingent is on standby at Lonmin's Western Platinum operations, should the crowd turn violent.

The mine’s executive vice president for human capital and external affairs, Barnard Mokwena, is expected to address Lonmin employees later.

National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega visited the area on Monday evening, bringing in more officers to try stabilise the situation.

MINE UNION RIVALS

Speaking on the Talk 702 on Tuesday, Amcu secretary Jeff Mphahlele claimed Num had a history of starting violent attacks in areas where it was losing members.

He said Amcu was recruiting more members in the North West and that Num, the more giant union, was fighting back. 

“Num is behind the violence.”

But Num secretary Frans Baleni denied union members were involved and blamed the attacks on criminal elements organising illegal strikes.

“We’re dealing with professional liars here, people who are very creative in manufacturing issues which do not exist.

Both unions have pledged to intervene to end the violence. 

Rivalry between the two unions earlier this year shut down a mine run by Impala Platinum for six weeks.

(Edited by Thato Motaung)