One miner has been killed in clashes between police and striking workers at a South African platinum mine, witnesses said yesterday, as South African President Jacob Zuma appealed for calm.
“Yesterday [Thursday] the cops shot many people, but one of them is dead, even the dead body is still there where he was shot yesterday, it has not yet been taken [away],” said Qaddafi Mdoda, a witness and workers’ activist at the Anglo American-owned mine.
Circumstances surrounding the killing in the northwestern town of Rustenburg remain unclear, but police had on Thursday fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse a group of striking workers gathered on a hill near the mine.
Police spokesman Thulani Ngubane said they had received reports of the death and were investigating.
“At this stage we are busy on a manhunt to see if we can recover the body,” he said. “The situation is tense ... anything can happen.”
Yesterday morning about 300 miners gathered outside a nearby stadium to voice their protest. Police in armored vehicles were positioned at a distance from the venue.
About 28,000 workers have been on a strike at Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), the world’s top platinum producer, since Sept. 12, demanding higher wages.
A recent protest by truck drivers brought the number of striking workers across the country to about 100,000.
With the country in crisis, Zuma late on Thursday said the often violent work stoppages must end if the continent’s largest economy is to attract more investment and grow.
“We should not seek to portray ourselves as a nation that is perpetually fighting,” he told captains of commerce, just days after global ratings agency Moody’s downgraded South Africa’s credit rating.
Zuma said business and labor needed “to ensure shop-floor peace and stability in the country, in order for us to continue the collective responsibility of promoting economic growth and development.”
“We wish the parties well as they negotiate to solve both the mining and truck-driver strikes,” Zuma said.
The crisis began with a deadly wildcat work stoppage by 28,000 miners at a Lonmin platinum mine in August.
The strike ended with an up to 22 percent pay rise, but not before 46 people had died.
Meanwhile, the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union is pushing for rail and ports workers to join the strike by more than 20,000 truck drivers to bring the entire transport sector to a standstill, it said yesterday.