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S.African police disperse 3,000 ‘violent’ miners

South Africa's platinum mine workers protest after they rejected a fresh wage offer at a public meeting in Marikana on January 30, 2014 vowing to continue the strike that has brought the sector to a stand-still/AFP

South Africa’s platinum mine workers protest after they rejected a fresh wage offer at a public meeting in Marikana on January 30, 2014 vowing to continue the strike that has brought the sector to a stand-still/AFP

JOHANNESBURG, February 4 – South African police said they used stun grenades and rubber bullets Tuesday to disperse about 3,000 “violent” striking miners in the country’s restive platinum belt.

Strikers “carrying dangerous weapons, such as knobkerries and sticks, blocked the road and were threatening to remove non-striking workers at the shaft,” police said in a statement.

The incident occurred at Anglo American Platinum’s Khuseleka 1 shaft in the north and marks the first instance of major unrest in the sector wide strike, now in its second week.

“Police were forced to use stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd,” the force said, adding that two protesters aged 52 and 47 were arrested.

They face charges of public violence.

Around 80,000 members of the radical Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) downed tools on January 23 calling for a minimum monthly wage of 12,500 rand ($1,100)  almost double their current pay.

Last Thursday miners rejected a three-year deal from Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin that offered a roughly seven percent annual increase.

Talks resumed earlier on Tuesday.

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