Protests simmering at Limpopo mine

News24 Correspondent and Mpho Raborife

Polokwane - The atmosphere around Anglo American’s Mogalakwena platinum mine was still tense following days of violent protests which broke out in the area, Limpopo police said on Monday.

A total of 36 people had been arrested for public violence and malicious damage to property since last week Sunday, spokesperson Colonel Ronel Otto said.

Members of the Public Order Policing unit were still monitoring and patrolling the area.

"The situation is still tense. There are still several roads inside the villages that are blocked, but the main roads are open."

She said residents had been blockading the roads leading to the mines since last week for a number of reasons.

On Monday afternoon, dozens of villagers who live near the mine agreed to disrupt mining activity until the mine's management agreed to meet with them.

Villagers near the company's open cast mine at Mapela, a village north-west of Polokwane, were protesting against the resolution that saw their children, who were attending school at Seritarita Secondary school, moved to another school in a neighbouring village.

They were moved from the school because of the effects the mine's blasting activities would have on them. Seritarita was operating close to the mine. The pupils were now being transported to a state-of-the-art school built by the company in Leruleng.

'Children were being used as pawns'

The protesters were also demanding that the mine and construction company consider hiring locals. They accused Anglo American of neglecting their children and failing to provide transport.

Community leader Charles Phaahla said they wanted a meeting with the company. He said the community was also angry that some companies contracted to the mine brought their own workers from elsewhere.

Since the protest started, a local clinic built by the mine and Langa Traditional Council Offices have been set alight.

In addition to the damage, a truck was set a light along the N11 while transporting potatoes from local farms.

The protest also stalled schooling in the area, a process the education department said was worrying and costly.

Provincial education spokesperson Naledzani Rasila said the children were being used as pawns in the battle between the mine and the community.