Calls for chrome mine to be shut

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FireProtest

Independent Newspapers.

Picture: Willem Law.

Rustenburg - Residents of Mmaditlokwe near Marikana in the North West on Thursday vowed to continue their protests until 16 arrested people were released.

Residents earlier told Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa they wanted Tharisa chrome mine to stop blasting until they had been moved to another area.

Mthethwa was in Mmaditlokwe to facilitate a dialogue between residents and the mine.

He told residents a task team had been established to look into the issues affecting them and they needed to elect four people to represent them.

“We cannot elect people to serve in a task team when other residents are arrested,” said resident Cecelia Tiro.

Despite Mthethwa's intervention residents headed towards Marikana, intending to march to the Marikana police station to demand the release of those arrested on Tuesday.

Mmaditlokwe is roughly 3km from Marikana.

Police stopped them at the entrance of the township stating that the march was unlawful as they did not apply for a permit.

Residents took to the streets on Tuesday claiming that massive blasts at Tharisa mine endangered their lives.

“There was a heavy blast on Monday that sent rocks high in the air and left the area engulfed in a flood of dust,” said community leader Msokoli George.

He said residents blocked the Marikana roads with garbage and burning objects and also burned down a councillor's house.

In a meeting with Mthethwa, residents said the blasting destroyed their houses and endangered their health.

They demanded that the mine stop blasting until an alternative place has been found for them.

Tharisa chief executive Leon Richardson said the mine would limit blasting and inform residents before blasting started.

“We cannot mine without blasting,” he told residents at the meeting.

Residents wanted to know from Richardson where they should go when the mine blasted.

They claimed their houses trembled each time there was a blast at the mine.

Their township is situated approximately 400 metres away from the mine.

Fourteen women and two men were arrested on Tuesday night for public violence and were expected to appear in the Rustenburg Magistrate's Court on Thursday. - Sapa


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