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'Human tragedy' unfolds on platinum belt

Implats says the violence and intimidation in the platinum sector are devastating.

The army and police are deployed in Marikana on 14 May 2014. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Impala Platinum (Implats) says the violence and intimidation being experienced in the platinum sector as a result of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction (Amcu) strike is devastating.

The company says a human tragedy is unfolding on the platinum belt as a result of workers not being able to earn an income and it has called for employees to be allowed to return to work while negotiations to end the strike continue.

Four people, including three miners, have been killed over the past week in what is suspected to be strike-related violence as the strike enters its fourth month.

Workers are demanding a basic salary of R12,500 per month.

Thousands of miners are addressed by Amcu President Joseph Mathunjwa at Wonderkop Stadium in Marikana on 14 May 2014. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

Implats spokesperson Johan Theron says the impact of the strike is absolutely devastating.

"Obviously the impact is enormous because 80 percent of our employees are on strike. It's in the order of R1,4 billion that they have lost."

Implats says it has produced almost 160,000 ounces less over the past three months due to the protracted mass action.

The deadlock has cost companies as well as workers billions of rands and led to dire poverty on the platinum belt.

Theron says the majority of employees have indicated that they want to return to work despite the ongoing strike action.

"What we are certainly dealing with is more and more people wanting to come back to work, but there is a threat of intimidation and that people could get hurt if we reopen the mine."

But the company has only offered a nine percent wage increase which has led to a breakdown in negotiations.

On Wednesday, three cars belonging to essential services staff at a Rustenburg mine were vandalised.

Picture: iWitness

The company said its officials weren't able to arrest three men who managed to get through a security gate shortly after the morning shift started.

Meanwhile, an underground mine worker told Eyewitness News that she's starting to lose her possessions and her family life has also taken strain because she's not earning any money.

"My car has been taken from me. It's very difficult. I can't pay my accounts and I am staying at home. My husband is even tired of me because I have been begging for a long time."

LONMIN TELLS WORKERS TO STAY AT HOME

Lonmin on Thursday advised employees who feared for their safety to rather stay at home.

The mining giant told workers that it was not worth risking their lives to return to their posts.

Lonmin said some of its employees, including striking Amcu members, started returning to work on Thursday.

Non-striking miners reporting for duty in Marikana on 15 May 2014. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

This after the company called on workers to end their crippling wage strike and accept a pay rise of nine percent.

The company wouldn't say how many workers had returned to their posts but said an "overwhelming majority" had indicated they wanted to end the strike.

The National Union of Mineworkers also told its members to stay away from shafts where Amcu members are on strike, out of fear of intimidation.