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End in sight to Lonmin violence

Police are expected to bring an end to the Lonmin mine violence when they meet with protesters.

Protesters from Lonmin's Marikana Mine in the North West sit on a nearby hill, awaiting instruction from their leaders. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Police said Thursday's action plan should bring an end to the violence at Lonmin's Marikana mine.

Officers will be deployed to disarm protesters who have been gathering at a hilltop near the mine's shaft since Monday.

Initially, the protest was sparked by a wage dispute, but since then two rival unions have accused one another of triggering the violence.

They embarked on an illegal strike on Friday which sparked violent attacks, leaving 10 people, including two police officers dead.

Police have been trying to negotiate a truce with protesters since Monday.

They will ask the protesters to handover their weapons later and try and disperse the crowd in an amicable way.

Police said six people have been arrested in connection with incidents of intimidation, but those responsible for the killings have not yet been arrested.

They want to stabilise the situation so that business can continue and all miners can return to work by Friday.

Meanwhile, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) revealed that an employee who was killed at Lonmin's Western Platinum operation this week, had been on a hit list.

NUM believes that rival union Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) instigated the strike by promising workers more money.

Num's General Secretary Frans Baleni said some of the union's shop stewards and branch leaders at Lonmin were placed on a hitlist.

Baleni does not know who compiled the list, but said it originated from the hostile group leading the strike at Lonmin.

"We must say that it was brought to our attention that there is a hitlist, so one escaped for his life and the other was the tenth man killed."

The body of a shop steward was discovered by journalists on Tuesday, and two other Num members were also killed during the days of violence.

On Thursday, women from the surrounding communities joined the protest action.

They sang, danced and carried sticks as they headed towards the men gathered on the hill near Lonmin's Marikana mine shaft, but earlier this week the striking mine workers had warned all the women to stay away.

Police have prepared themselves to disarm the protesters in a bid to end the violence.

"We cannot continue to allow this state of affairs as it undermines the efforts we are putting in place as the police, in ensuring that there is peace and stability in this country," said North West Provincial Commissioner Zukiswa Mbombo.

They want to stabilise the situation and ensure all miners return to work.