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'EFF fuelling tensions in platinum sector'

Police say violence escalated after EFF leader Julius Malema endorsed the strikes.

Police say violence escalated after EFF leader Julius Malema endorsed the work stoppage. Picture: Christa Van der Walt/EWN

MARIKANA - Police in the North West have accused the leaders of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) of agitating mineworkers and fuelling tensions on the platinum belt, as a strike by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) stretches into its fourth month.

Amcu members marching to Lonmin offices on 3 April 2014. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

Three mineworkers were killed in Marikana over the past week and it's believed they were targeted while returning to work during the early hours of the morning.

The men have been confirmed to be members of the National Union of Mineworkers and the union has accused its rival Amcu, which called the strike, of being behind the murders.

The police's Thulane Ngubane said violence escalated after EFF leader Julius Malema endorsed the work stoppage.

"Malema recently said he supports the strike by funding the strike and all of a sudden people are up in arms."

Malema wraps up his election campaign in Wonderkop in the North West on 6 May. Picture: Mia Lindeque/EWN.

Ngubane says police are now unable to resolve the issues.

"The problem wasn't started by the police and it can't be solved by the police."

MTHETHWA CONDEMNS MINEWORKERS' KILLINGS

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa has condemned the killing of three mineworkers on the platinum belt over the past few days.

Police said violence increased in recent weeks and promised to heighten security as some miners begin returning to work.

Security guards are now stationed at bus stops so that people who want to go to work aren't attacked.

Mthethwa said even though the right of workers to strike is protected by the Constitution, violent intimidation will not be tolerated.

Ngubane said it was up to Amcu leaders to appeal to its members to allow non-striking workers to report for duty.

"We can't really do anything until leaders take responsibility and understand that people's lives are being lost."

There's little activity in the township surrounding the mine as residents are too scared to be seen around the shaft.

Businesses remain closed due to the impact of the strike.