Kumba miners adamant about demands

Kumba Iron Ore Sishen miners say order will not be restored until their demands are met.

Disgruntled mineworkers from Kumba Iron Ore's Sishen mine in the Northern Cape stage a protest. Picture: Rahima Essop/EWN

NORTHERN CAPE - Kumba Iron Ore is assessing the situation at its Sishen mine in the Northern Cape on Wednesday morning after a difficult two days involving chaotic protests, arrests and lay-offs.

On Tuesday police moved in on a group of mineworkers who were blocking access to a mining pit.

They were among some 300 miners who had embarked on a wildcat strike earlier this month.

The past 48 hours at the Sishen mine has been tense and it's still not clear when operations will return to normal.

Kumba Iron Ore is anxious to resume operations at the mine, but it is unclear when this will happen.

The company's Yvonne Mfolo said they will monitor the situation.

"Obviously there will be a few disgruntled people, especially because their colleagues and friends have been arrested. But, we are confident we will be able to get started."

While the company maintains only a fraction of its workforce supports the strike, angry miners made a point of showing they will not be ignored.

Protestors went on the rampage near their hostel on Tuesday and vandalised company property after 40 of their colleagues were arrested.

"There will be no normal operation until everyone is let free and we get what we want."

Two people were arrested during the demonstration after police caught them carrying petrol bombs.

Arrested mine workers are expected to face several charges including trespassing and extortion.

Meanwhile, the Institute for Security Studies said ongoing violent protests are diverting much needed police resources away from efforts to deal with more serious crimes.

On Tuesday the institute made a presentation to parliament on the successes and failures of the police force.

The organisation's Gareth Newham said there has been a 25 percent rise in violent protests during the 2011/2012 financial year.

"This means there are about three violent incidents across the country every day on average. We've seen particularly large instances in the North-West, Eastern Cape, Gauteng and the Western Cape."

Newham emphasised that authorities have had their hands full in recent weeks, trying to contain a rash of violent demonstrations of which many were linked to strikes.