Acts of violence have been on the rise in South Africa’s mining communities in the last several years with the recent petrol bombing of a workers’ transport on the 2nd of April which killed six men the most heinous in some time. Some 50 miners were on route to Anglo’s joint venture Modikwa mine near Limpopo in the northeastern part of the country when a group of five men purportedly threw the incendiary device onto the bus. Police attributed the attack to general social unrest stemming from the area’s high unemployment estimated to be close to 80%.
However, some believed that the attack could have been the work of rival unions which has been the cause of violent conflicts in the recent past; miners at Modikwa are represented by the National Union of Mineworkers.
A study of civil unrest on the eastern limb of the bushveld chronicled over 400 incidences in the past two years alone. Roadblocks to impede mining activity and worker access were the most common accounting for more than half of all occurrences. The bus attack was the most abhorrent of these stoppages. Protest marches and non-sanctioned walkouts have also been prevalent. The impact on mine production has so far been limited to only brief stoppages.
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