MARIKANA, South Africa, Sep 17 – South African police on Monday barred firebrand Julius Malema from addressing around 2,000 striking workers at the strife-torn Lonmin Marikana mine on Monday, an AFP photographer said.
Rabble-rousing Malema, who was axed from the ruling ANC party but has grabbed the spotlight of South Africa’s mining unrest with calls for wildcat stoppages, was turned back as he was about to enter a stadium where workers had gathered.
As he drove away he was escorted by a convoy of cars from a police special protection unit.
Police had given Malema 10 minutes to leave the premises or face arrest, according to local Talk Radio 702. Police showed him a piece of paper, whose contents were not immediately known.
It was the first time Malema failed to address workers since he embarked on a crusade of inflaming miners to down tools for wages. He has told the workers to make mines “ungovernable” and to stage monthly strikes for better pay.
Government last week warned it would act “swiftly” against the incitement and threats of violence crippling especially the platinum mines.
It was the first time Malema failed to address workers since he embarked on a crusade of inflaming miners to down tools for wages.
Workers’ public gatherings are now prohibited unless cleared in advance by the police.
Police told Malema outside the stadium that he was not allowed into the meeting, which had been cleared only for the striking workers and wage negotiators.
One rally goer was heard threatening to shoot Malema.
But after he left, some angry workers started hurling stones at the police cars and shouting that they had asked Malema to come to address them.
Mediated wage negotiations between the strikers and their employer were due to resume on Monday, after workers rejected an offer Lonmin tabled on Friday.
The workers’ representatives were to brief their colleagues Monday before heading back to the talks.