Police step up security as S.African mine strike continues

AFP , Tuesday 28 Aug 2012

Heavy police contingent guarded Lonmin platinum mine in South Africa to protect workers who quit a wildcat strike ahead of mediation talks after 44 died in violence

South Africa
Unidentified women pray in support of arrested mine workers outside Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate Court in Pretoria, South Africa, Monday (Photo: AP)

Police numbers suddenly increased Tuesday after they had pulled back in the last week, following workers' threats of retaliation against non-strikers until talks with the government and mine management resolve a wage dispute.

Officers camped outside the mine hostel and the informal settlement where the majority of the workers live and conducted random body searches.

Armed private security guards also manned the gates and patrolled the mine grounds.

Representatives of the miners—who deny belonging to a union—would meet with Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant on Tuesday ahead of talks between the government, unions and mine management on Wednesday to broker a "peace accord".

"We are hopeful that the talks will bring good news. It's not that the workers don't want to work, we want money," one of the leaders Zolisa Bodlani told AFP.

"The government is our last hope," he said.

Bodlani earlier told miners the Wednesday talks would determine if they returned to work.

Only 13 percent of the mines' 28,000-strong workforce showed up for work on Monday. Figures for Tuesday weren't immediately available.

Police opened fire on the strikers on August 16, killing 34 and wounding 78, after earlier violence between strikers left 10 dead.

Striking workers on Monday intimidated those who returned to work.

Workers claim they earn 4,000 rand, and they want 12,500 rand (1,190 euros, $1,490). Lommin however, says they already earn around 10,000 rand a month.

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