A strike of 300 workers at the Kumba Iron ore mine in the northern Cape in South Africa has been broken up. Police moved in to the facility and arrested at least 40 workers., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Seven protesters injured during Kumba mine raid
The Kathu Medi-Clinic has confirmed that seven protesters have been admitted with minor injuries after the police's early morning raid at Sishen mine.
16 Oct 2012 10:43 - Lisa Steyn
South African Mail & Guardian
Around 50 protesters dressed in blue overalls demonstrated outside the Kathu police station in the Northern Cape, angered over what they called "the violent actions of police" during the arrests.
The girlfriend of one of the injured protesters backed up the claims.
Police are expected to release a statement shortly.
The illegal strike at Kumba's Iron Ore mine was ended after a raid in which 40 protesters were arrested and equipment worth billions was recovered.
The strike, which began on October 3, was ended when a team of 200 – a collaborative effort between the police, mine security and emergency services – arrested the workers on the mine's premises after failing to adhere to a court order which required that they leave.
Speaking to the Mail & Guardian at the deserted Sishen mine, the police's Colonel Hendrik Swart said the plan to move in was developed over the space of three days despite the court order only being obtained at the weekend.
The strike originally saw 300 workers down tools in demand of an additional R15 000 in wages. The workers also held R3.3-billion worth of mining equipment hostage which was all recovered during the raid.
"We still have to confirm if anyone was hurt," Swart said.
The arrestees face charges of contempt of court but in time additional charges such as theft and intimidation could be added.
"It all depends on the investigation," Swart explained.
On Monday, all but seven of an estimated 120 striking workers reported for disciplinary hearings and the remainder were dismissed later in the day.
Last year, permanent employees benefitted from an empowerment scheme which paid out up to R500 000 per worker. Those dismissed will not be eligible for the second phase of the scheme which is due to pay out even more.
It was estimated that of the original group of 300, less than 120 strikers remain on the mine dump where they had positioned themselves. Most abandoned the strike – some have even handed themselves over to the police while others have left for medical reasons, Kumba said.
In the early hours of Monday morning, it was only 40 striking workers who remained and all were arrested.
Yvonne Mfolo, head of public affairs at Kumba, said while all the equipment was returned, it remained at the crime scene.
"There is no damage that we know of but we will have to do a maintenance check."
Mfolo said the safety training would begin on Wednesday and that production could begin as soon as Friday.
Kumba had said it was losing about $14-million each day the mine was out of production.