Skip to main content

South African mine dispute erupts in violence

By Kim Norgaard and Tom Watkins, CNN
updated 11:22 AM EST, Mon February 18, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Nine employees were shot with rubber bullets, the company says
  • Three security personnel sustained minor injuries, it adds
  • Workers Committee members are contesting the legitimacy of the National Union of Mineworkers

Johannesburg, South Africa (CNN) -- Nine mine employees were hurt Monday when Anglo American Platinum security guards shot rubber bullets to break up a confrontation between rival union groups at a mine in northwest South Africa, the company said in a statement.

The incident occurred at the company's Siphumelele mine in the Rustenburg area and involved members of the Workers Committee and shop stewards for the National Union of Mineworkers.

"As they were attempting to evacuate the NUM shop stewards who were trapped in their offices, three security personnel sustained minor injuries during this incident," the statement said.

All 12 injured employees received medical attention; none of the injuries was life-threatening, it added.

Police spokesman Brig. Thulani Ngubane said those hurt were taken to Bleskop Hospital. The shootings did not involve police, he said.

South African miners face uncertainty

"Workers committee members are contesting NUM's legitimacy at the mine and demanding that NUM vacate its offices," the company statement said. The company said it is trying to validate union membership at Rustenburg and the mines north of the Pilanesberg National Park.

Anglo American Platinum Limited, a member of the Anglo American plc Group, describes itself as the world's leading primary producer of platinum group metals, accounting for 40% of the world's newly mined platinum. Its mining, smelting and refining operations are based in South Africa.

Last fall, several major South African mining companies, including Anglo American, were involved in labor disputes with their miners that erupted in violence.

In October, police repeatedly clashed with protesters near one of Anglo American's mines, and the company fired about 12,000 striking workers who refused to attend disciplinary hearings.

The union did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

CNN's Kim Norgaard reported on this story from Johannesburg, and Tom Watkins wrote it in Atlanta.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:12 AM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
Obama's remarks that he didn't yet have a strategy for ISIS in Syria is widely criticized.
updated 7:26 AM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
A few miles south of the town of Starobeshevo in eastern Ukraine, a group of men in uniform is slumped under a tree.
updated 8:08 AM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
Beijing says only candidates approved by a nominating committee can run for Hong Kong's chief executive, prompting criticism that it stifles democracy.
updated 4:23 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
He should be toddling around a playground. Instead, his tiny hands grip an AK-47.
updated 12:52 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
CNN's Will Ripley travels to North Korea, visiting an international wrestling festival and a slide-filled water park.
updated 5:20 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Our whole solar system appears to be inside a searing gas bubble, scientists say.
updated 8:23 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Wilson Raj Perumal tells CNN how he rigged World Cup games: "I was giving orders to the coach."
updated 8:02 PM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
One journalist murdered, another still being held by ISIS -- a ransom negotiator talks to CNN about trying to get a hostage home alive.
updated 2:35 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
South Africa Music Legends stamps
Artist Hendrik Gericke puts a spotlight on iconic performers from South Africa in these incredible monochrome illustrations.
updated 5:46 AM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
We asked you what you would like to know about Ebola. Experts answer some of your most common questions and concerns.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT