‘NATIONALISE MINES!’ – says South African mineworkers union

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THE South African government must nationalise mines that Anglo American Platinum Ltd (Amplats) is laying idle, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has demanded.

Workers at three of Amplats’ South African mines returned to work yesterday after walking out on strike on Wednesday after it announced it would cut up to 14,000 jobs, close four shafts and sell a mine considered unsustainable.

AMCU president Joseph Mathunjwa told reporters in Johannesburg: ‘If Anglo persists with the retrenchments, it’s a window for government to take those mines and nationalise them.’

Commenting on the proposed sackings, he added: ‘We were shocked on Tuesday. This is very unacceptable.

‘We all know the country is facing a high number of unemployed. Now for Anglo Platinum to shed so many jobs is a sign of not putting the interest of this country at heart.’

He added: ‘We cannot let these foreign investors do as they please with our mineral resources.

‘It is high time now that we as a nation stand together and find ways of ensuring that our mineral resources benefit the people of South Africa.’

He said the AMCU represented about 26,000 Amplats employees and the union would hold a meeting in Rustenburg to discuss and plan the way forward.

Rival union NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said nationalisation of the Amplats mines wouldn’t work, asking: ‘Where is the money to run these operations. The income is too little.’

The ruling African National Congress in December rejected proposals to nationalise mines in favour of higher taxes.

Meanwhile South Africa’s Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) is investigating police after a man died during the on-going farm workers’ strike in the wine-producing Western Cape region.

The IPID said it would investigate all the circumstances that led to shopkeeper Letsekang Thokoene’s death and will determine the police’s involvement in the man’s death.

Thokoene was allegedly shot by rubber bullets on Monday when police were firing on protesters.

Western Cape police said he was taken to hospital where he later died, giving no further details about what happened.

The strikers, who pick and pack fruit, have been demanding their daily wage be more than doubled to about $17 (£11).