Rubber bullets fired at striking miners

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IOL jun 1 IOL police_badge_sep 19 INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS .

Johannesburg - Only rubber bullets were used in a shooting early on Monday at Gold One’s Modder East mine near Springs, the mine said.

Chief executive Neal Froneman said four former workers hospitalised afterwards were all discharged in the afternoon.

“We initially heard that one of them had been more seriously injured, but all four have now been discharged from hospital.”

The rubber bullets were fired when protesters blocked entrances to the mine.

“Our security staff were forced to take action,” Froneman said.

The four men were part of a group of around 60 former employees of Gold One and Pamodzi Gold East Rand who blockaded the main entrance to the mine early on Monday morning.

Froneman said the mine was granted an interdict against protests of this nature in June, and it was still valid. The interdict allowed the police to intervene.

The police tried to persuade the protesters to leave, but were forced to use rubber bullets and teargas when they refused to disperse. Access to the mine was re-established in the early afternoon.

Froneman said the mine would not hesitate to lay charges and use all legal avenues to take a “hard stance against such illegal activities”.

He said recent disquiet in the mining industry had “strong political undertones”, but was not limited to Gold One's operations.

Five police vehicles, including an armoured car, remained at the entrance of the property on Monday evening while private security guards, dressed in military-style uniform, dotted the dirt road leading to the mine entrance.

The words “Gold One Full Corruption”, “Bribed”, and “Shit” had been scrawled across the company's sign.

A women, who claimed that strikers had burnt down her stand, said her husband worked at the mine. Men had approached her husband, a foreigner, and told him not to stay near their home on Monday night for safety reasons.

On Thursday, expelled African National Congress Youth League president Julius Malema, speaking at the nearby Aurora mine in Grootvlei, promised to make the mining industry “ungovernable”.

“We are going to lead a mining revolution in this country... We will run these mines ungovernable until the boers come to the table,” he said.

Earlier, police spokeswoman Captain Pinky Tsinyane said four people had been shot by the mine's security guards and police were investigating a case of attempted murder. Another four had been arrested for public violence and would appear soon in court, she said.

The Independent Online reported that the protesters were demanding to be re-employed with higher salaries. - Sapa


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