Rustenburg, South Africa — 31 October 2012 – South African police fired rubber bullets and teargas at striking Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) miners who were protesting against a union-brokered deal to end a six-week wildcat walkout at the world’s top platinum producer.

Reuters reports that as they moved into a shanty town near the mines, police also deployed water cannons and stun grenades against groups of protesters armed with wooden sticks and stones. Women and children fled as they fanned out through the maze of tin huts.

The strikers at the Amplats mines near Rustenburg, 120 km north-west of Johannesburg, had been due to return to work following a company offer to reinstate 12,000 men sacked for downing tools six weeks ago.

Months of labour unrest in the mines have hit platinum and gold output, threatened growth in Africa’s biggest economy and drawn criticism of President Jacob Zuma for his handling of the most damaging strikes since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Amplats said at the weekend it had reached a deal with several unions and would be offering sweeteners, such as a one-off hardship payment of R2,000 to end the strike that has crippled production.

A return to work yesterday was one of the conditions attached to the deal.

However, at Amplats’ Thembelani mine, hundreds of miners barricaded a road with burning tyres, and police said an electricity sub-station at another mine had been set alight.

Amplats said it was still working out attendance numbers at its four strike-hit Rustenburg mines. For the past few weeks, fewer than 20%of staff have been turning up.

Source: Reuters Africa. For more information, click here.