Teargas fired at Gold Field protestersComment on this story
Security guards at Gold Fields' KDC west mine near Carletonville fired teargas on Wednesday to disperse people intimidating and threatening those trying to go to work, company spokesman Sven Lunsche said.
“There was a group of about 100 people trying to prevent contractors and non-strikers from going to work,” he said.
Teargas was fired earlier on Wednesday at protesters at the mine.
Lunsche said that there had been no injuries, apart from the effects of the teargas.
The protesters had tried to cause disruptions among contractors at a training centre, and near a train.
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.
A Sapa reporter on the scene said thousands of workers ran to a stream, where they washed their eyes, while security guards wearing gasmasks sat in vehicles.
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.
Veld fires started after the gas was fired, and large clouds of smoke floated over the roads.
NUM leaders addressed workers at a stadium in the area on Wednesday.
Some of those gathered wore T-shirts with “Hands off NUM. Hands off Cosatu” printed on the back.
Lunsche said the NUM leaders were speaking to workers after 85
percent of the mine's workforce stayed away.
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 this, calling it “hogwash”. It said it had not received complaints before about branch leadership there.
On Wednesday, some of the group wore balaclavas and carried sharpened sticks and planks.
“We want them to go back to work,” said NUM regional secretary Mbuyiseli Hibana.
He was telling workers that their wage issue was something they needed to address with their employer, when the firing of the teargas was heard.
Armed guards from Goldfields, both on foot and in armoured vehicles, were stationed around the mine.
Police arrived and spoke to some of the striking miners.
Warrant Officer L Radebe said the miners had complained about security guards firing teargas at them.
He said they were also still waiting to be addressed by Koos Barnard, the senior vice president of Gold Fields' Kloof/Driefontein complex.
“They have now gone back and will discuss what they will do and then come back to us,” said Radebe. - Sapa