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S.Africa will clamp down on mines unrest: minister

South Africa said Friday said it will no longer tolerate growing unrest in its key mining sector and will act against incitement and threats of violence at gold and platinum mines.

“Our government will not tolerate these acts any further,” Justice Minister Jeff Radebe told journalists, saying measures had been put in place to bring the situation under control.

“Illegal gatherings, the carrying of dangerous weapons, incitement as well as threats of violence against anyone in the affected areas will be dealt with accordingly,” he said, saying such acts violated legislation.

“Law enforcement agencies will not hesitate to arrest those who are found to have contravened legislation governing all these acts.”

South Africa has been battling to rein in growing wildcat action on mines since production at global giant Lonmin’s platinum mine in Marikana was shut down more than a month ago in a deadly strike that has killed 45 people.

The unrest has spilled over to nearby Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) which is the world’s top producer of the precious metal.

On Wednesday, the company shut five of its mines in the Rustenburg platinum belt over safety fears after threats on staff going to work.

The gold sector has also been affected with 15,000 miners having downed tools since Sunday at Gold Fields near Johannesburg.

The stayaways have taken on an increasingly militant tone with strikers vowing to retaliate against workers who do not join their go-slows over demands for wage hikes.

“This government recognises that if the current situation continues unabated it will make it even harder to overcome our challenges of slow economic growth, high unemployment, poverty and inequality,” said Radebe.

The backbone of South Africa’s economy, the mining industry directly hires around 500,000 people and contributes up to nearly one fifth of GDP when related activities are included.