Tension is rising in South Africa’s platinum mine sector, where police are struggling to keep order after three miners working in defiance of a strike were killed in separate incidents.
The platinum-mining area around Rustenburg town was quiet on Tuesday after the violence that had started on the weekend, the South African Press Association reported. It said one slain miner was stabbed, another was set afire and a third miner and his wife were strangled to death.
Authorities are increasingly concerned about conflict between miners who want to work and tens of thousands of miners who went on strike in January.
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, a labour group, says its members deserve higher wages, and has objected to major platinum-mining companies that have approached miners directly with wage offers in an effort to end the strike. The companies, in turn, have said they recognize the right of employees to strike, but are entitled to communicate with their employees and have complained about intimidation and violence toward miners who want to work.
In 2012, South African police fatally shot several dozen miners during labour unrest at a Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana, near Rustenburg. The shootings followed an increase in deadly violence in the area in the preceding week in which two police officers were among those killed.
South Africa is the world’s leading producer of platinum, which is used in medical, electronic and other industries.