'Police must do more at Lonmin'

Platinum producer Lonmin said it could not guarantee the safety of employees at its mine.

A mine shaft. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Platinum producer Lonmin on Monday said it could not guarantee the safety of employees at its mine, following violent clashes that left three people dead.

About 3,000 rock drill operators went on an illegal strike on Friday, but the situation quickly spiraled into fighting between rival unions at the mine in Marikana, North West.

Officials from Lonmin said the clashes were between the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the upstart union Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU).

Since Friday, three people have been killed and four cars set alight. Two security guards were killed during clashes on Friday, while another employee was hacked to death on Monday, said police.

Lonmin Executive Vice President Barnard Mokwena said management met with NUM on Sunday, to discuss the fighting.

He said the mine was trying to organise a meeting with leaders from AMCU.

Lonmin management is due to meet with Gauteng Police Commissioner Lieutenant-General Zukiswa Mbombo on Monday, he added.

But NUM general secretary Frans Baleni accused police of not doing their job.

He said he did not understand they had not properly intervened in the on-going dispute.

"We have spoken to the provincial commissioner, who has claimed (police) don't have resources. We find it is unacceptable that law-abiding citizens reporting for duty can be killed."

The Western Platinum operation is still open for business, but is working at a reduced capacity because many workers have been absent, fearing for their lives.

The turf war between rival unions forced the closure of an Impala Platinum mine for six weeks earlier this year.