Striking miners at Lonmin platinum fields. Unrest at the mines has resulted in over 40 deaths in one week. A commission of inquirty will be convened., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
15 September 2012
Last updated at 05:07 ET
South Africa police raid miners' hostels in Marikana area
Police said the weapons raids aimed to remove the "threat" posed by striking miners, some of whom are armed with machetes, knives and spears
South African police have raided miners' hostels in the area of the strike-hit Marikana platinum mine, west of the capital Pretoria.
About 500 officers took part in the early-morning raids, taking machetes, spears and other weapons, police spokesman Thulani Ngubane said.
He told AFP news agency the police had made 12 arrests.
The government had threatened to clamp down on unrest which had been spreading in gold and platinum mines.
On Friday, the cabinet announced it would not tolerate what it called illegal gatherings, and threatened to disarm strikers.
The raids took place at about 02:00 (midnight GMT), police said.
"The aim of the raid was to disarm the mine workers to make sure that we do away with the elements of threats that are taking their toll in the area of Marikana," Mr Ngubane told Reuters news agency.
But five of Saturday morning's arrests were related to possession of drugs and not weapons, police said.
The strike has seen hundreds of protesting workers brandishing sticks and machetes march from mine to mine around Marikana and other areas, threatening anyone reporting for work.
Pay offer rejected
The mining unrest has been marked by violent clashes, including the shooting dead of 34 striking miners by police at Marikana in August.
In all, 45 people have died in violence related to the wildcat strike at the mine.
Miners have demanded their pay be increased to 12,500 rand (£930; $1,500) from the current 4,000-5,000.
On Friday they rejected an offer by the owners, Lonmin, for an extra 1,000 rand a month.
Since August's deaths at the Marikana mines, industrial action has spread to other gold and platinum shafts in South Africa's lucrative mining sector.
Seven protesters were arrested at an Aquarius Platinum Limited mine on Friday shortly after the clampdown was announced, AFP reported.
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has warned that strikes could hurt economic growth, jobs and investor confidence in Africa's biggest economy.
Some unions have threatened to call a general strike.