JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Shanduka’s Graspan colliery returned to calm on Wednesday following a clash between police and striking workers on Tuesday that resulted in the injury of two and the arrest of nine people.
About 250 workers at the Middelburg-based mine downed tools on Tuesday in illegal protest action and had to be forcibly removed from mine property by the police after groups of strikers seized equipment.
Unions did not initiate the unprotected strike, National Union of Mineworkers spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said.
The reasons for the protest action were not yet clear; however, mine management, indicating that they would only consider demands raised through established legal channels, had accepted an undisclosed memorandum of demands.
“The industrial action was unlawful, unprotected and in breach of the employees’ contracts of employment,” Shanduka said in a statement.
South African Police Services Brigadier Selvy Mohlala told Mining Weekly Online that police were forced to fire rubber bullets into a crowd of approaching workers.
He noted that, after barricading the entrance of the mine, the workers had threatened police with graders.
Shanduka said in a statement that reports emerged from the local hospitals that two people from Graspan were on Tuesday evening receiving treatment for gunshot wounds, and were in a stable condition, while another five were admitted on Wednesday morning for minor injuries.
This followed incidents of violence on Monday at Exxaro’s Grootegeluk mine, in Mpumalanga, which resulted in several workers being injured and many more being arrested during a clash between workers and police as tensions intensified.
Reports emerged earlier in the week that violence had escalated and property was damaged by the striking workers.