Several mines in the Tsantsabane mu-nicipal area, most notably Kumba Iron Ore's Kolomela mine, Ass-mang's Beeshoek mine and Ringside Mi-ning, became the targets of a community's anger when hundreds of protesters em-barked on an unprecedented protest march on Friday 15 September 2017.
The march, organised by the Save Tsant-sabane Coalition (STC) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), in partnership with civil society, started about 2 kilometres from the Assmang Beeshoek mine and ended at the main entrance to the Bees-
Tensions simmered when George Benja-min and Dr Ananias Radebe of Kolomela and Assmang mines respectively, ap-peared to receive the memorandum from the protesters, however, the crowd voiced their anger and chased the two gentleman away.
A dangerous stalemate ensued when protesters demanded the personal ap-pearance of mine managers.
The Public Order Police Unit were strain-ing to keep the crowd under control and also to negotiate with protest leaders and
mine representatives for an amicable solu-tion. A lack of ablution facilities and the long wait led to the crowd ultimately becoming unruly and the R385 road was barricaded. Assmang mine responded by deploying a heavily armed private security contingent and several water cannons.
The dangerous impasse was allayed when mine managers Aart van den Brink, Mark Oosthuizen and Sabelo Hlalatu finally ar-rived after approximately two hours to face the protesters.
A memorandum containing demands for employment, skills development and service delivery was read out loud by the firebrand leader of the STC, Alister Davids. The me-morandum contained, inter alia, the following demands:
Dissolution of the Tsantsabane Labour Desk.
A deliberate bias in employment recruit-ment towards original inhabitants of the Tsantsabane municipal area.
Recruitment from labour sending areas to be stopped as a matter of extreme urgency
Upskilling and rightskilling of local people.
Investment in the placement and construc-tion of a community college and technical and vocational training in the Tsantsabane municipal area.
To stop non-sensical and irrelevant pro-gramme offerings eg upholstery at Kolo-mela Skills Centre and invest in 1000 mi-
ning-related learnerships, bursaries, in-ternship and mentorship opportunties over the next three years
To grow a new generation of black busi-ness leaders and entrepreneurs in the Tsantsabane municipal area.
A multi-actor strategy to fight and expose endemic corruption at the Tsantsabane municipal area.
The mines were given five days to respond with a concrete programme of action on the demands. “Failure to do so, will leave us no other option but to target the productivity and operations of the stakeholders,” Mr Davids said. He lambasted the South African Police Services for not being impartial during march application processes.
Forty-year old Lenward Williams also join-ed the march. “I participate because last year Master Drilling retrenched only the local peo-ple from Postmasburg,” Mr Williams said.
Pensioner Agnes Letsalo delivered an em-otional plea on behalf of unemployed youth. “Our children are on drugs as a result of bore-dom – please employ them.”
At the end of the march, some veldfires were observed, but there was general uncer-tainty as to the cause. STC Communications
The Kathu Gazette approached the afore-mentioned mines for comment which will be published next week.