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Lonmin open to peacekeeping force being sent to mines

Lonmin says it will welcome any attempt to curb violence at its mines.

Lonmin says it will welcome any attempt to curb violence at its mines. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Mining company Lonmin says it would welcome the deployment of a peacekeeping force on the platinum belt to quell simmering tensions between rival unions the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant this week said she had had serious discussions with Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe about it but this would only happen in a worst case scenario.

Motlanthe has been tasked with returning stability to the sector by President Jacob Zuma.

Just days after a NUM shop steward was shot dead and another wounded on the platinum belt, Lonmin spokesperson Abey Kgotle says tensions remain high and a peacekeeping force will be welcome.

"There is a need for measures to ensure that we are able to curb all these violent attacks."

NUM remains sceptical about the possibility of deploying army troops to the country's mines.

However, NUM's Lesiba Seshoka admits police have failed the unions in the North West.

"We have nine murders and not a single suspect has been arrested so far. We are not sure whether the army will be helpful."

Though the deployment has been described as something that will only be considered as a last resort, the violence targeting NUM and Amcu members shows no sign of abating.

At the same time, Amcu is threatening to go on strike at Lonmin next week if it is not recognised as the majority union.

The union has been demanding that NUM vacate its offices at the mine.

Tensions between the two unions fuelled some of the unrest which saw at least 40 people killed during labour protests in Marikana last year.