Business, Economics and Jobs

South African police fire rubber bullets at Anglo American protesters


Demonstrators hold a placard during march by protesting miners in Rustenburg on September 16, 2012 after a security crackdown in the restive platinum belt where officers shot dead 34 strikers exactly a month ago. Workers dispersed calmly after armoured trucks and armed police in riot gear stopped them from marching on a police station in northwestern Rustenburg, a day after officers fired rubber bullets on in nearby strike-hit Marikana.



JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — South African police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse protesters gathered near an Anglo American platinum mine, less than a day after a strike ended at the neighboring Marikana mine.

A police spokesman said a group of people had "gathered illegally" Wednesday at the Anglo American (Amplats) mine located near Rustenburg, northwest of Johannesburg.

Anglo American suspended operations last week, saying it had to "protect the safety and security of its employees." Mining operations restarted yesterday.

Wildcat strikes and protests have interrupted production at several gold, platinum and chrome mines in South Africa, the continent's largest economy, with workers demanding monthly pay of 12,500 rand ($1,500).

The strikes have spread since police shot dead 34 striking miners at the Lonmin-owned Marikana platinum mine on August 16. 

More from GlobalPost: South Africa sends in soldiers, police to quell Marikana mine strike 

Workers at the Marikana mine are set to return to their jobs Thursday after agreeing to a wage deal that includes a 22-percent pay rise. Under the agreement, the miners will also receive a once-off payment of 2,000 rand (about $240).

The South African government has in recent days started cracking down on the violence rocking the country's mining industry, sending in soldiers and hundreds of police after warning it would arrest anyone in an illegal gathering and would no longer tolerate carrying of weapons such as machetes, knives and clubs.

Captain Dennis Adriao told the South African Press Association that police used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse crowds around the Amplats mine, and rubber bullets were used at a nearby squatter camp.

"As we have said, we are not tolerating any illegal gatherings," Adriao told SAPA.

More from GlobalPost: Marikana: South Africa's perfect storm