Axed Amplats miners blame police for violence

Axed Amplats miners insist recent violence in Rustenburg has been triggered by police intimidation.

Sondela residents put burning tyres, rocks and other objects on the road leading to the Jabula shaft of Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) mine near Rustenburg on 20 September 2012. Picture: Sapa

JOHANNESBURG - Axed miners at Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) Mine in Rustenburg on Wednesday insisted that recent violence was triggered by police intimidation.

At least three people have died in Rustenburg since September during illegal gatherings staged by dismissed Amplats employees.

Mine management dismissed 12,000 miners after they failed to attend disciplinary hearings in connection to their illegal strike.

The protests have become increasingly violent in recent weeks, with a taxi being torched and a policeman hospitalised after he was attacked with a traditional panga.

The strike committee elected by Amplats miners on Tuesday said it had always intended for the strike action to be peaceful.

Committee member Mmametlwe Sebei said police had pursued a violent crackdown on strikers in the North West, which had led to a hostile response.

"Violence has mostly been at the provocation of the police. They have been unleashing the campaign of unmitigated violence and murderous tactics in Rustenburg."

Meanwhile, the North West police pleaded with the miners to end violence, but said they were ready to respond to attacks and ensure stability was maintained in the area.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Thulani Ngubane said, "We've got police officers who are still monitoring the situation to ensure that we maintain stability and we continue to protect properties and... the lives of the weak and innocent."

At least 40 people have been arrested in connection with the violence so far.