Miners to lay murder charges

2012-10-08 10:47

Johannesburg - Representatives of 12 000 fired Anglo Platinum [JSE:AMS] workers plan to lay murder charges after a colleague was killed in clashes with police, a leader said on Sunday.

"What we want to do tomorrow (Monday) is to open a case against the SAPS (South African Police Service)," said George Tyobeka, a worker representative at the mine in northwestern town Rustenburg.

Meanwhile, amid continuing violence, a union leader's cousin was shot dead in neighbouring Marikana, where deadly strikes at the Lonmin [JSE:LON] platinum mine left 46 dead, including 34 killed by police in a single day.

"An unemployed cousin ... of an NUM shop steward was shot and killed last night (Saturday) at the shop steward's house in what is reported to be a case of mistaken identity," said National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka in a statement.

"According to the friend who was seated on a chair at the time the incident happened, gunmen appeared from nowhere at the Marikana hostel and immediately shot the steward's cousin ... who was sitting on a bed," he said.

Another branch leader was shot dead in Marikana late on Friday, a day after a miner died in clashes with police at Anglo Platinum (Amplats).

The man, identified by mine workers as Mtshunquleni Qakamba, 48, died when police fired rubber bullets and teargas to disperse a gathering on a hill.

"They shot against the people ... until they killed one of our colleagues," Tyobeka said, adding that the workers wanted to file charges of murder and attempted murder.

"Employees weren't fighting, they were just sitting on the hill," he said.

Authorities have not confirmed the man's identity or cause of death.

An independent police watchdog has meanwhile taken over the investigation "as the incident appeared to have arisen from police action," police said in a statement.

A day after the death Amplats, the world's top platinum producer, formally dismissed 12 000 of 28 000 striking workers following disciplinary hearings.

Workers had downed tools on September 12 demanding wages of R16 070 - more than double what some earn.

On Saturday around 1 500 people gathered at the hill where the clashes occurred to commemorate Qakamba.

Vowing to fight for higher wages, the worker representatives will meet with government mediators Monday about their demands, but not to discuss their sacking, Tyobeka said.

"Tomorrow we don't want to mention the issue of dismissal. Dismissal is an issue of management," he said.

Wildcat strikes have spread across South Africa's mining sector as workers reject their conventional union structures.

Lonmin, the world's third largest platinum producer, gave strikers pay rises of up to 22% in September after six weeks of illegal work stoppages.

Angry workers have sometimes targeted union leaders during the past months' violence strikes, accusing the guilds of conspiring with mine management against workers.

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