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Rustenburg - The police will continue to restore peace in the troubled platinum mining belt of North West, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said on Wednesday.
“Anarchy will not be allowed, whether disguised as industrial action or not,” he told reporters at the Marikana police station.
Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) at Lonmin, Impala Platinum, and Anglo American Platinum in Rustenburg and at Northam in Limpopo downed tools on January 23, demanding a basic monthly salary of R12,500.
The strike has cost the companies over R17.8 billion in revenue and workers have reportedly lost more than R7.9bn in earnings.
The platinum producers recently resolved to approach striking mineworkers directly about their latest pay offer, in a bid to end the strike. Amcu objected, raising fears of friction between striking mineworkers and those who wished to return to work.
Three miners and one of their wives were killed in separate incidents in Rustenburg since Sunday, prompting police to deploy reinforcements in the area.
Mthethwa said on Wednesday more than 5 000 people had been arrested in the platinum belt in the past year. He said those who had been instigating violence in the Marikana area would be arrested.
“We have names of those instigating violence, within hours we should be on top of them.”
National police commissioner Riah Phiyega said the police would remain in the Marikana area as long as the situation warranted their presence.
“We have adequately deployed diverse units in this area.”
She denied the police were afraid to act after the Marikana
shooting of August 2012, when police shot dead striking mineworkers.
“We have acted over a period of 20 months. More than 5000 people have been arrested for various crimes. It is not correct that the police are afraid to act.”
Forty-four people were killed during the wage-related strike in 2012. Thirty-four were killed on August 16, 2012 when the police opened fire, apparently trying to disarm and disperse strikers. Ten others, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed in the preceding week.
The 44 deaths are currently being by probed the Farlam Commission of Inquiry.
Mthethwa said on Wednesday it was the responsibility of union organisers to ensure their gatherings were peaceful and that no one carried dangerous weapons such as knobkerries and pipes.
He said police disarmed some of the people who attended an Amcu rally earlier in the day at Wonderkop stadium in Marikana.
“Some agreed to leave their weapons behind and we understand some managed to get into the stadium with their knobkerries,” the minister said.
“It remains the responsibility of the organisers that such weapons are not carried.”