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Middelburg, Mpumalanga - Two striking miners were shot and wounded at Shanduka Coal's Graspan colliery in Mpumalanga, Life Midmed Hospital said on Wednesday.
“One patient had a gunshot wound to his abdomen. He was taken to theatre straight away and is in a ward now,” the Middelburg hospital's unit manager Caroline Henderson said.
“The other patient had a gunshot wound to the left side of his chest and he was discharged this morning.”
They were part of a protest at the colliery on Tuesday.
Mine management said: “The company has received reports from local hospitals that two people from Graspan were admitted last night with gunshot wounds and are in a stable condition. A further five people have reportedly been admitted this morning with minor injuries.”
Mpumalanga police spokesman Brigadier Selvy Mohlala said that police used rubber bullets.
“Police utilised rubber bullets. They (the two) were taken to hospital, but were not seriously hurt. One was injured on the forearm.
“We definitely did not use live ammunition.”
Henderson dismissed reports that another five people were admitted to the hospital with injuries on Wednesday morning. She said Midmed was a private hospital and both gunshot patients had medical aid.
It was possible that the five may not have been on medical aid, and were taken to a government hospital, she said.
Shanduka Coal said about 250 employees embarked on an unprotected strike on Tuesday.
“The police dispersed the striking employees, who were on mine premises illegally, had seized mine equipment, and were refusing to leave peacefully,” chief operating officer Zirk van der Bank said in a statement.
Operations at Graspan were suspended. Police were called when striking miners blockaded the mine's entrance with road graders.
“Upon their arrival, protesters began fighting with police and threatening them. They chased police with the graders,” said Mohlala.
Nine miners were arrested for public violence.
It was unclear what they were protesting about. He said the protest continued on Wednesday morning and there were no reports of further injuries. - Sapa