SA police fire rubber bullets at striking miners

JOHANNESBURG - South African police fired rubber bullets and teargas on yesterday at striking Amplats miners who were protesting against a union-brokered deal to end a six-week wildcat walkout at the top platinum producer.

As they moved into a shanty town near the mines, police also deployed water cannons and stun grenades against groups of protesters armed with wooden sticks and stones. Women and children fled as they fanned out through the maze of tin huts.

One protester was dragged away bleeding heavily and unable to walk, and was treated by paramedics, a witness said.

The strikers at Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) mines near Rustenburg, 120 kilometres northwest of Johannesburg, had been due to return to work following a company offer to reinstate 12 000 men sacked for downing tools six weeks ago.

“We are not giving up, we will soldier on,” said striker John Tonsi, who had been shot in the leg by a rubber bullet. “We will fight for our cause until management comes to its senses.”

Months of labour unrest in the mines have hit platinum and gold output, threatened growth in Africa’s biggest economy and drawn criticism of President Jacob Zuma for his handling of the most damaging strikes since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Amplats said at the weekend it had reached a deal with several unions and would be offering sweeteners, such as a one-off hardship payment of R2 000, to end a strike that has crippled production.

A return to work on Tuesday was one of the conditions attached to the deal.— Reuters

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