MAC: Mines and Communities

South Africa: Protester shot dead in Limpopo mine unrest

Published by MAC on 2015-05-18
Source: Mining.com, News 24 (2015-05-13)

Deadly violence has erupted once again at a South African platinum mine.

After the troubled industry hit global headlines last year with the multiple homicide of workers at Marikana (see: South Africa: Did police deliberately shoot victims of the "Marikana Massacre"?), the focus now seems to be shifting towards local community protests (although in the case of platinum mining in South Africa there is often a great deal of overlap between the two).

There have already been warning signs of a growing discontent (see Robert Friedland's Mining Showdown in South Africa).

Yet this is the first full echo of the tragedy at Marikana. It seems that any lessons from that calamity have yet to be applied.

Protester shot dead in third day of unrest at S. Africa’s mine

Cecilia Jamasmie

Mining.com

13 May 2015

One person died and another one is seriously injured after South African police allegedly clashed with protesters near Atlatsa Resources’s Bokoni platinum mine in the Limpopo Province.

Locals are up in arms because they claim the company offered millions of rands for the community when it was granted mining rights eight years ago. They say they haven’t seen any of the promised investment so far, News24.com reports.

Social unrest began on Monday when people blocked a road leading to the mine and burned tyres, preventing employees from getting to work. Atlatsa said in a statement that the community has made no formal demands to the mine.

“Bokoni management is working closely with the South African Police Services to ensure safety and security in the region,” the firm added.

The Bokoni property consists of seven mining licences covering an area of roughly 15,000 hectares at the heart of South Africa’s platinum belt.

Atlatsa Resources is the mine’s majority owner, with Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) owning the remaining 49% of the project, which produced 170,000 tonnes of platinum group metals in 2014.

South Africa, Africa’s largest economy, holds about 80% of the world's known platinum reserves, accounting for 70% of global output, used for jewellery, catalytic converters in vehicles, and as a key source of hard currency for the country, among other applications.


Protester shot dead in Limpopo mine unrest

News 24

13 May 2015

Polokwane - At least one protester was shot dead and another shot and wounded at Atok near Bokoni Platinum mine in Limpopo, police said on Wednesday.

Police allegedly shot dead the 28-year-old protester while trying to restore order on the platinum belt after two days of protests by residents.

“There was a shooting last evening and one person was killed, and another one injured,” said police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Malesela Ledwaba on Wednesday morning.

He said a murder and attempted murder case had been opened and referred to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate to investigate the case.

Bokoni Platinum, a subsidiary of Anglo Platinum, is being accused of undermining and ignoring community demands despite agreeing earlier this year to resolve the issues, they claimed.

Residents said since the mine started operation, the community has not benefited from the mining operations despite the company's pledge to comply with South Africa’s mining charter.

Community leaders have been protesting on the R37 between Burgersfort and Polokwane to demand a meeting with the mine's management.

At least one car apparently belonging to a mine worker has been torched.

Public violence

Ledwaba said seven cases of public violence were opened and three people arrested, including community leader Malope Lesufi.

Atlatsa spokesperson Prudence Lebina said employees were prevented from reporting for work as a result of the protests and intimidation.

“Bokoni also confirms that there was damage to the timber storage yard and to the network and telephone infrastructure,” said Lebina.

She said mining management was working closely with the South African Police Services to return stability to the area.

Lebina said no formal demands had been presented by the protesters to mine management.


SA awaits Marikana report as protesters die at hands of police

by Setumo Stone

Business Day

14 May 2015

THE deaths of two protesters this week at the hands of the police have highlighted the urgent need for President Jacob Zuma to release the findings of the Marikana commission of inquiry.

The incidents — which occurred in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo on Tuesday — also underscore the importance of implementing the commission’s recommendations, which was established to provide guidance on how to improve public-order policing.

Marikana in the North West was the scene of one the worst events involving the police in postapartheid SA. In August 2012, 34 mine workers were killed during a drawn-out strike characterised by violence and intimidation in SA’s platinum mining belt. A total of 44 people died during the strike.

The urgency with which the commission’s findings should be made public and implemented is further brought home by the prospect of a looming strike season. Unions representing public-sector workers have been in wage talks with government negotiators for more than seven months, and the gold and coal sectors are poised for a similarly fraught process.

The Marikana inquiry is expected to shed light on how the police can improve their handling of violent labour strikes and service delivery protests.

However, Mr Zuma said last week he was still applying his mind to the findings of the report, which was handed to his office last month.

On Tuesday two people died and one was injured in separate incidents in Atok in Limpopo and Bedford in the Eastern Cape.

Limpopo police spokesman Colonel Malesela Ledwaba said on Wednesday one person was killed and another injured near the Bokoni Platinum Mine in Atok — where residents had been protesting over the benefits of local mining, demanding jobs at the mine.

In Eastern Cape police fired shots at a group of people who had been blocking roads during a protest in Bedford.


Residents feel done in by mine

News 24

11 May 2015

Polokwane - Disgruntled residents of Atok in the Sekhukhune platinum region have blocked the R37 road between Polokwane and Burgersfort, expressing concerns over Bokoni Mine and Community Trust failure to reveal how community equitable shares are utilised.

Bokoni Platinum, a subsidiary of Anglo Platinum, is being accused of undermining and ignoring community demands despite agreeing earlier this year to resolve the issues, they claimed.

Residents said since the mine started operation, the community has not benefited from the mining operations despite the company's pledge to comply with South Africa’s mining charter.

"We are very angry and tired of them not wanting to help develop our community while it is harvesting our wealth on our fields," community spokesperson Malope Lesufi told News24 on Monday.

He said that they were supposed to meet the mine management on May 7, but were then told they are not a legitimate structure.

“How can we be an illegitimate structure while we have signed a declaration with them earlier this year, and with the Fetakgomo municipality, Limpopo Office of Premier and Department of Mineral Resources?”

Barricaded roads

On Monday, residents took to the strategic roads leading to the mine, barricading them with stones, timber and burning tyres, demanding a meeting with the company.

Lesufi said they want the company to explain how the community’s 2.1% equitable share is utilised, what it means in monetary terms and how they are complying with a social and human resources development plan.

Last year, the community also barricaded the road in a protest that lasted for more than three days, and resulted in the traditional leader’s house and vehicles being set alight.

During Monday's protest, the roads being blockaded also affected other mines in the area, as trucks and other vehicles had no means of access .

One protester said that the community's wish was to see their area developed and to own shares like the Bafokeng tribe in North West.

According to the protester, the mines and local traditional leaders “thinks building a community hall and houses for chiefs, and paramount chiefs are key developments”.

‘Restore order’

Local police spokesperson Tebele Kgofelo said police were patrolling the road in an attempt to restore order.

Atlatsa Resources Corporation spokesperson Prudence Lebina said they were not aware of the demands, but would try to engage with the community to establish what the issues were.

"We have not received a formal demand, and we don’t know what it is that they want. We hope to find an amicable solution," she said

Lebina said the day shift employees did not report for duty because of intimidation.

The company said any disruption affected its ability to generate revenue.

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