‘They killed one of our colleagues’
Johannesburg - Representatives of 12 000 fired Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) workers in South Africa plan to lay murder charges after a colleague was killed in clashes with police, a leader said.
“What we want to do tomorrow (Monday) is to open a case against the SAPS (South African Police Service),” said George Tyobeka, a worker representative.
A man identified by mine workers as Mtshunquleni Qakamba, 48, died when police fired rubber bullets and teargas to disperse a gathering on a hill near an Amplats’ mine in the north-western town of Rustenburg on Thursday.
“They shot against the people... until they killed one of our colleagues,” Tyobeka told AFP, adding that the workers wanted to file charges of murder and attempted murder.
“Employees weren't fighting, they were just sitting on the hill,” he said.
Authorities have not confirmed the man's identity or cause of death.
An independent police watchdog has, meanwhile, taken over the investigation “as the incident appeared to have arisen from police action”, police said in a statement.
A day after the death, Amplats formally dismissed 12 000 of 28 000 striking workers following disciplinary hearings.
Workers had downed tools on September 12 demanding wages of R16 070 - more than double what some earn.
On Saturday, around 1 500 people gathered at the hill where the clashes occurred to commemorate Qakamba.
Vowing to fight for higher wages, the worker representatives will meet with government mediators on Monday about their demands, but not to discuss their sacking, Tyobeka said.
“Tomorrow we don't want to mention the issue of dismissal. Dismissal is an issue of management,” he said.
Wildcat strikes have spread across South Africa's mining sector as workers reject their conventional union structures.
Lonmin, the world's third-largest platinum producer, gave strikers pay rises of up to 22 percent in September after 46 people were killed - including 34 shot by police in a single day in August - during six weeks of illegal work stoppages. - Sapa-AFP