Rustenburg – Can you recall
when the Impala strike first
started? …6 weeks ago! And
now everyone has something
to say about it and everyone
has a suggestion in resolving
it… sadly not one single
unified conclusion could be
reached within 6 weeks.
Maybe we need Oprah…
Alas, every action has a reaction…
its how the world works.
It all basically started with an
illegal strike action of more
than 17 000 unruly participants.
Well noted by numerous
sources of the media, the
strike has been called off a
couple of times; but kept flaming
up, out of control…
Then non-miners decided to
Strike spreads to Bafokeng
According to Anti-Bafokeng Repression
Campaign coordinator Matlantla
Mekgwe, the Impala riots spilled over to
Bafokeng, Luka Village, where “hundreds
joined the violent march against Impala
Platinum” (1 March 2012).
As reported, an enormous contingent of
Police was deployed around 5 in the morning,
to dispel an angry crowd which blockaded
the railway line and the entrance to
Luka village with stones and burning tyres.
He also claimed that, both the Executive
Mayor of Rustenburg Local Municipality
and the Bafokeng chief have recently refused
permission for Bafokeng communities
to stage march-demonstrations.
“We are tired of the Bafokeng Chief. One
female resident from Luka village was
stabbed by angry mine workers on her
way to work. We tried talking to the Bafokeng
chief on Monday about the impact of
the Impala mine-strike on our community,
but to no avail. The chief refused to talk
to us and the Bafokeng security chased
us away,” Mekgwe shouted as he was
whisked away in the back of a police van.
During the Luka protests, 13 individuals
were arrested, Thursday March 1. The
protest erupted 8 kilometres from Impala
Platinum (Implats) mine.
“We arrested 13 people for public violence
and also confiscated two vehicles
with burning tyres,” Captain Tselane Nkala
Luka village residents demanded to be
employed in unfilled positions at the mine.
According to community leader Solly
Huma, they would continue the protest until
the locals were hired. “If Impala thinks
their problems have ended, let them wait
and see what we will do. We are going to
protest until we are hired.”
Police used rubber bullets to disperse
a crowd of around 500 people. Schools
were also disrupted and people were prevented
from going to work.
Nkala said the 13 people arrested would
appear in the Bafokeng Magistrate's Court
on Friday. Police spokesman Brigadier
Thulani Ngubane added that the situation
was tense and was being monitored by the
Impala continues Rehiring Workers as
Protesters Block Routes
Implats' head of personnel Johan Theron
said in a statement that preference would
be given to returning employees, who
would receive their old benefits, in the filling
of open positions. “If we receive more
than 15 000 applications, we will keep a
recall list and as soon as opportunities
become available, those on the list will be
The company hopes that this also signals
the end to the violence and intimidation.
Implats would like to thank the Police for
their strong presence on the ground and
for their assistance during the past few
weeks. Their continued vigilance is vital as
employees return to work.
Violence leads to Violence, right?
Rustenburg Police have registered yet another
mine related public violence arrest
on Wednesday, 29 February 2012.
According to the information received,
workers at Samancor mine barricaded the
main entrance with stones and trees, not
allowing the night shift workers to get out.
Due to unruly workers and one of the
SAPS members being hurt, the Police had
to control the situation by using rubber bullets
Brigadier Ngubane said.
Consequently, 6 suspects were arrested
(three males and three females), whilst the
‘I also have something to say’
Expelled African National Congress (ANC)
Youth League president Julius Malema, together
with ANC deputy secretary General
Thandi Modise on Tuesday urged workers
to refrain from violence, return to work
and engage with management through the
formal structure of the National Union of
However, Malema told the crowd that the
mine could afford the workers' R9000
wage demand or more.
"Workers cannot be wrong," he said to the
applause of the crowd. "Once workers decide
on action, something must be wrong." Yes… I am SURE this will solve the
Malema, at the forefront of mine nationalisation
despite national and international
resistance, also added, "You must benefit
from the mine. If you are not benefiting,
you must fight until you benefit."
Malema also stated that in every revolution
there were sell-outs. "Do not worry
about amagundwane (rats) – their time
will come..," he said to the applause of the
crowd… Many workers said they regarded
Malema as a "true leader".
No, not Abba’s song… The strike has cost
Impala, the world’s second-largest producer
of the metal, more than 2 billion rand
($267 million) of revenue. The lost output
would tip world platinum demand-supply
into a deficit in 2012.
South Africa produced 73% of the world's
platinum production in 2011 according to
Johnson Matthey. Citibank calculated that
South Africa's PGM deposits comprise of
88% of world's total in 2010. Impala produced
23% of world's platinum while its
Rustenburg mine (where the strike occurred)
is the largest platinum mine, producing
15% of world supply.
South Africa should be extremely concerned
about the strike at Implats,
Northam Platinum CEO Glyn Lewis said at
“The illegality of it, the intimidation associated
with it, the loss of production, the
potential closure of shafts, the loss of jobs,
the loss of income and the loss of investment
into this country all have very dire
ramifications,” he said.
NUM struggling for Control
One thing is certain: events on the ground
in Rustenburg have spun beyond the
control of National Union of Mineworkers
(NUM) or the police.
However, “The Rustenburg mine workers
are busy going back to work,” said Sydwell
Dokolwana, the regional secretary
for NUM, representing the majority of employees
at the mine.
New Kid on the Block…
The new kid on the block at Impala Platinum's
giant is the little-known Association
of Mineworkers and Construction Union
(AMCU). AMCU is headed by Joseph Mathunjwa,
a FORMER NUM trade union supervisor.
Implats admits that the emergence of
AMCU lies at the heart of the dispute.
AMCU has been testing the waters against
the dominant NUM, South Africa's largest
union with 320 000 members.
“NUM is spending more time playing politics
than fighting for workers' rights. We
don't need NUM anymore because they
don't help us. They don't talk to the people," a angry protester said.
Sadly, illegal strikes will likely become
more common, especially if workers believe
that the NUM fail to represent them
adequately at Implats' Rustenburg mine
while AMCU's presence – though covert –
has brought them gains.
Many of Impala’s workers are making
their way back from the Eastern Cape,
Northern Cape and Lesotho, and 13,500
people returned to work by the deadline to
be reinstated with their previous benefits,
Johan Theron said. Impala plans to fill
Killings; NOT Fatalities
Platinum mines are among the most dangerous
mines in the world, and from timeto-
time, it makes the headlines. Though
the word “fatality” would be used; definition:
a death resulting from an accident or
It is sad, distressing to say the least, that
during the past few weeks, four people
were killed and at least 50 hurt in violent
protests and attacks on employees who
continued to go to work, according to police
and the company.
Around 11,600 miners and 4,200 processing
and services employees did not participate
in the work stoppage.
Implats deplores this violence and intimidation
and calls on the SAPS to continue
their vigilance in dealing with this criminal
Implats said on Friday that to date, 59
people had been treated in hospitals for
injuries sustained in the violence and 24