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Mine violence purely criminal - Lonmin

Violence at the Marikana mine in the North West is purely criminal, platinum producer Lonmin says.

Lonmin's executive vice-president of human capital and external affairs Bernard Mokwena speaks after 9 people were killed in mine violence. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Violence at the Marikana mine in the North West is purely criminal and has nothing to do with workers' rights, platinum producer Lonmin said on Tuesday.

Trouble started at the mine when 3,000 rock drill operators embarked on an illegal strike on Friday.

At least nine people, including two police officers, were killed in violent clashes.

The conflict was blamed on rivalry between the National Union of Mineworkers (Num) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU).

Lonmin CEO Barnard Mokwena said the violence spread quickly because of the geography of the area.

There are several informal settlements and villages around the mine.

The CEO said Lonmin has existing wage agreements with unions and did not receive further demands from workers.

Mokwena said police were called in to calm tensions.

"We will not legitimise criminal activity by giving anybody a platform to negotiate or engage, when nine lives have been lost. Someone must account for these lives."

Earlier, mine management met with unions in a bid to end the violence.

HEALTH AND SAFETY CONCERNS

Mining watchdog Benchmark on Tuesday said health and safety at Lonmin's Marikana mine is unacceptable.

According to a report on platinum mining operations in South Africa, the mining company faces some challenges in terms of recruitment.

Researcher David van Wyk said Lonmin workers do not live or work safely, despite the company claiming its employees are safe.

The document said Marikana barely has a functioning sewage system, which leads to diseases.

It also stated that Lonmin workers avoid the mine's clinics, filling up government facilities and causing tensions between themselves and the local community.

The report also slammed living conditions for mine workers, describing them as appalling.