NUM tells members: Defend your lives

The union made the call following the apparent petrol bombing of two homes belonging to its members.

FILE: Lonmin mineworkers gathered on a hill on the outskirts of Wonderkop village in the North West in August 2012. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on Wednesday called on its members to defend themselves against any intimidation during the ongoing strike on the North West platinum belt.

The call comes after two houses belonging to NUM members were petrol bombed in the Sefikile village overnight.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the union blamed what it described as "hooligans camouflaged as striking unionists" for the incident.

Around 70,000 miners affiliated to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) downed tools on the platinum belt more than four months ago.

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

The latest wage talks between union leaders and mining bosses have stalled once again with Amcu rejecting an offer that would bring salaries in line with demands by July 2017.

The NUM previously expressed concerns that members of Amcu may be behind earlier attacks on its members, condemning "continuous intimidation and killings of mineworkers … who have not been part of the strike."

But in the latest incident, there was no indication of who was behind the attack.

The NUM avoided placing the blame on Amcu.

"The NUM strongly condemns the escalation of systematic attacks on its members by hooligans who are exploiting the strike situation with acts of crime and barbarism," the statement read.

"The NEC [national executive committee] makes a clarion call to all its members to exercise their right to go to work and most importantly … to defend themselves against any forms of violence and intimidation," it continued.

"The NEC calls on them to defend their families, their lives and property."

At the same time, the union's Steve Modimokwane, branch chairperson at Anglo American Platinum's Union Mine, says police are doing nothing to protect NUM members who are still trying to work.

"We do not know whose house will be petrol bombed tonight," he says.

The union also claims another member was attacked on Tuesday.

The worker managed to escape with minor injuries, the NUM confirmed.