Nzimande: Police’s reaction was justified

Police earlier today fired rubber bullets at miners attempting to disrupt a Cosatu rally in Rustenburg.

A Cosatu member was injured in a fight with a striking Amplats miner on 27 October 2012. Cosatu had planned to hold a rally at the Olympia Stadium in Rustenberg. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN

RUSTENBURG - South African Communist Party (SACP) secretary-general Blade Nzimande on Saturday said police had no choice but to fire at striking miners who earlier attempted to disrupt a rally by members of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu).

Speaking to a crowd of about 600 people at the Olympia Stadium in Rustenburg, Nzimande said members of the trade union federation would have been attacked, if the police did not intervene.

He called on the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) to expel those who took part in today's protest.

The secretary-general said he was at the stadium when police took action to disperse striking Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) miners, using rubber bullets, water cannons, teargas and stun grenades.

"That was an extreme act of provocation that I saw today, and it was correct of police to actually disperse those people because they [wanted] to charge [at] us."

Ten people were arrested, following the brief unrest.

The commotion started when police stormed into the Olympia Stadium to disperse miners who had gathered there since the morning.

A fight then broke out between a miner and a marching Cosatu member, to which police retaliated by firing rubber bullets - causing the miners to flee to a residential area nearby.

Cosatu members had planned to hold their rally at the stadium.

It was hoped the rally would help resolve tensions between Cosatu leaders and members, following recent tensions and claims that unions under Cosatu had neglected the needs of their members.

Amplats workers have been on illegal strike since 12 September, demanding a basic salary of at least R16 000 per month.

They embarked on a strike shortly after their counterparts at Lonmin Mine, in Marikana, ended a violent wage dispute with management.