Gold Fields protest crowd grows

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Gold fieldsStrike Independent Newspapers Striking Gold Fields mine workers at a stadium near the company's KDC mine in Carltonville. Photo: Leon Nicholas.

A crowd of striking miners at Gold Fields' KDC West mine, near Carletonville, grew as security guards kept watch on Wednesday afternoon.

At the mine's time office, security guards lined the front of the building.

A man with a megaphone told the crowd that Gold Fields wanted the workers to produce a delegation of 10 people to speak on their behalf.

The protesters booed and shouted that mine management should address all of them.

Miner Sfundani Que said: “If they allowed 10 to go inside, they will fire them or lock them up. That is their strategy”.

A representative of the workers, Fumana Mdlambuzi, demanded that the senior vice president of Gold Fields' Kloof/Driefontein complex Koos Barnard come out and address them.

“We don't want to enter the building. We want him to come out and answer us. He must come to us.”

A mine representative told the crowd that Barnard was not on the site and advised them to return to where they had come from.

The crowd became restive, and some of the workers tried to usher their colleagues away.

“There were no answers there,” one of them said as they walked away.

Miners affiliated to the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) went on strike on Sunday. Their demands included the removal of NUM branch leadership at the mine, pay equalisation and a pay increase to R12,500.

The miners held up placards reading: “RIP NUM” and “Equalisationbackpay+R12,500”.

Guards in four armoured mine security vehicles, and officers in a few police minibuses kept watch from a distance.

Someone in the crowd shouted that the protesters should attack an armoured police Nyala, but no one acted on this.

Mine security guards earlier fired teargas at protesters at the mine. Company spokesman Sven Lunsche said this was done to disperse people intimidating and threatening those trying to get to work.

“There was a group of about 100 people trying to prevent contractors and non-strikers from going to work,” he said.

The protesters had tried to cause disruptions among contractors at a training centre, and near a train.

Worker Mfanayedwa Themba said protesters had wanted to stop a train, “because the train is a part of the mine. It is a part of us”.

When they went onto the railway tracks, guards started firing teargas at them, he said.

NUM leaders were meant to address workers earlier at a nearby stadium, however the firing of the teargas dissolved the meeting.

On Tuesday, expelled African National Congress Youth League president Julius Malema called for the resignation of NUM leaders, including its general secretary Frans Baleni.

The NUM dismissed the call as “hogwash”. It said it had not received complaints before about its branch leadership there. - Sapa


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