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Johannesburg - Protesters must abide by the law to avoid violent confrontations with police, North West premier Thandi Modise said on Wednesday.
“Communities that might have genuine concerns should not allow themselves to be misled to participate in illegal marches as these always result in dire consequences for those involved,” Modise said in a statement.
This follows an “illegal” protest that led to police firing rubber bullets to disperse a crowd in Mmaditlokwe informal settlement, near Marikana on Tuesday.
The premier called on the Madibeng local municipality to urgently investigate the allegations raised by the community.
On Tuesday, Brigadier Thulani Ngubane said the protest did not appear to be related to the ongoing platinum strike, but was related to complaints against a nearby chrome mine.
“The community members blockaded roads with burning tyres and rubble in protest against apparent and recent blasts at the nearby Tharisa mine,” he said.
They claimed that blasting at the mine damaged their homes and affected their children's health.
Police tried to reason with the protesters but they ignored appeals to disperse.
“In order to bring calm, the police were forced to use rubber bullets to disperse the unruly crowd.”
Fourteen women and two men were arrested. They would appear in the Marikana Magistrate's Court soon to face charges of public violence.
No injuries were reported and police would continue to monitor the situation.
Tensions have been running high in the area, as Lonmin gave employees until Wednesday to return to work. Several recent killings in the area have been blamed on intimidation related to the platinum strike. - Sapa