Limpopo - The ongoing protest against a local mining company has resulted in the shutdown of businesses and schools in Namakgale, Limpopo on Wednesday.
Police spokeswoman Colonel Ronel Otto said the situation in the area was volatile and tense.
“Last (on Tuesday) night, the R71 between Namakgale and Phalaborwa was blocked again and several vehicles were damaged by people throwing stones. Reports received were that spaza shops were looted and burnt down, we have not been able to verify the reports as roads are blocked and police cannot access the areas yet. Shops and schools are closed.” said Otto.
The protest, organised by the local unemployment forum, started on Monday. The protests were at the local Palabora Copper, a subsidiary of Palabora Mining Company.
The forum accused the company of not recruiting local residents, Otto said.
Palabora Copper spokesman Hulisani Nemaxwi said the unemployment forum, communities and the various tribal councils had been involved in the recruitment process that started in January.
“We asked people to submit CVs at their tribal councils, and have them stamped by the tribal office to make sure the CVs were from local residents and not outsiders. We collected 16 000 CVs which we’ve put in our database and started the process of recruiting,” said Nemaxwi.
He said the forum approached the company and demanded that the CVs be thrown away, and be replaced by 100 others they wanted to forward for employment.
“The sad thing is people who are protesting do not know that their forum want to do away with 16 000 job applicants and replace them with the 100 coming directly from them, we refused to accede to their demands as this will compromise a legitimate process that involved communities and tribal councils,” said Nemaxwi.
He added that production at the mine has dropped as protesters prevented buses transporting workers from entering the premises. Contractors’ vehicles were burnt down, he said.
“This is happening at a critical time for the industry, and can have significant ramifications for on the future of Palabora. This is impacting on the execution of the R9.3 billion project and may lead to mine closure.”