Expatica news

S.Africa military could help stem mines unrest: police

South African police who clashed with striking workers at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine Saturday said the military could be roped in to help quell the mining unrest if the situation degenerates.

Earlier police fired rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades to disperse hundreds of workers that had regrouped in a shantytown near where police shot dead 34 people last month.

The protesters hurled stones at officers and set tyres alight.

Police spokesman Thulani Ngubane told AFP that the crackdown was a police operation but that the military could be called in if the situation needed reinforcements.

“If a situation… needs soldiers to back us up, they will back us up indeed. They are part of the state, all state resources are available to make sure that we maintain the situation of Marikana,” he said.

“But at this stage there is no soldier that is anywhere on the field or that is anywhere around the operational area of Marikana.”

A military helicopter was spotted orbiting above the protest scene which Ngubane said was back-up for a police chopper in the area.

The government on Friday warned it was going to take stern action to rein in the festering labour unrest which has left 45 people dead and forced three platinum mines to shut operations in the world’s top producing country.