Africa News

Striking S.Africa miners attack police, one dead

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Thousands of protesting miners burnt tyres and torched a police office near Impala Platinum’s Rustenburg mine in South Africa on Thursday as a month-long strike at the world’s second-largest producer of the precious metal turned violent.

Striking workers take part in a march at Emalahleni, 100km (60 miles) east of Johannesburg, July 28, 2011. Thousands of protesting miners burnt tyres and torched a police office near Impala Platinum's Rustenburg mine in South Africa on Thursday as a month-long strike at the world's second-largest producer of the precious metal turned violent. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Police also said a miner who was beaten up during an overnight demonstration near the Rustenburg plant had died of his injuries.

Up to 5,000 miners were blocking the road leading to the mine, 120 km (80 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, provincial police spokeswoman Adele Myburgh said. One female police officer had been injured by flying stones, she added.

“This has been ongoing for a while but this morning they regrouped, started intimidating people who wanted to go to the mine, there were people assaulted, vehicles were stoned,” Myburgh said.

“The road was barricaded, vehicles travelling on that road were stoned, private vehicles as well as heavy-armed police vehicles.”

Implats’ Rustenburg operations have been brought to a halt for a month because of a dispute stemming from the sacking of 17,200 employees after a wildcat strike on January 12.

The company said the closure had cost 1.2 billion rand in lost output, and the lack of production has helped push world platinum prices higher.

Myburgh said police had made eight arrests, but the situation was far from under control. “The situation is obviously very tense and hostile,” she said.

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Striking S.Africa miners attack police, one dead