Explosives found in Marikana mine shaft

Rustenburg police say they found explosives and copper cables worth over R130,000.

FILE: Platinum mineworkers report for work at a Lonmin shaft in Marikana on 15 May, 2014. Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Rustenburg police say explosives and copper cables worth more than R130,000 have been found underground at one of Lonmin's mine shafts in Marikana.

It's understood security guards were watching CCTV feeds when they spotted three men with the explosives and cables at Lonmin's Newman shaft on Sunday.

After sending in a reaction team, though, the men managed to escape through one of the shaft tunnels and fled over the mine property's fences.

North West police spokesperson Thulani Ngubane says a case of theft of explosives has been opened.

"We aren't sure at this point what the explosions could've been used for as the shafts were monitored as a result of the strike," he explains. "Nobody is supposed to be underground at this point."

Tens of thousands of miners affiliated to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) have been on strike on the platinum belt for almost five months demanding a basic salary of R12,500 per month.

Newly-appointed Minister of Mineral Resources Ngoako Ramatlhodi has set up an intergovernmental task team which has tabled a new proposal for the union in the hopes of ending the strike which is the longest and costliest ever in South Africa's mining history.

The protracted strike has been largely blamed for a slowdown in South Africa's economic growth during the first quarter of this year.

Several deaths and claims of intimidation have also tainted the strike in recent weeks.