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‘They shot at us like dogs’

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Miners urged to stand their ground but to respect the police

TENSION: Mine security officers during yesterdays tense standoff with illegal miners. Picture: Danie van der Lith

MESSAGE: The message from this illegal miner to authorities is very clear. All pictures: Danie van der Lith

THE CHAIRPERSON of the Kimberley Artisanal Mine Workers (KAMW), Lucky Seekoei, was among those taken into custody by the police yesterday afternoon as tension between hundreds of illegal miners and mine security guards left dozens injured and also severely impacted the flow of traffic along the R64.

While police were unable to confirm any arrests yesterday afternoon, KAMW’s legal representative stated that they were aware of the situation and were in the process of determining the best way forward.

Shortly before he was taken into custody, Seekoei urged the miners to stand their ground but to respect the police, whom he said were attempting to resolve the situation.

“We will not leave because Ekapa are not the legitimate owners of the land nor the mineral resources,” he said, while being flanked by police officers.

“We have been negotiating for too long without any results. We want to work with the police to restore calm but there is too much intimidation taking place.”

“The way the (mine) security opened fire on us was completely uncalled for,” one of the miners on the scene said. “All we are doing is trying to put food on the table and earn an honest living, but they shot at us like dogs.”

Another miner pointed to what appeared to be an injury caused by a rubber bullet.

“When we arrived here this morning we could not get onto the premises and were unable to reach our equipment,” he said. “The next thing the bullets were flying and we had to run for cover.”

Late yesterday afternoon the miners’ legal representative, Johan Lorenzen from Spoor Attorneys, stated that the firm was exploring various legal options and that they were attempting to gain clarity regarding the arrest of Seekoei.

“Our clients remain open to resolving this matter amicably,” he said.

INJURED: One of the protesters who was shot during yesterday afternoon’s protest.

BURNING: Several steel drums were set alight during the protest.

SHOT: A protester displays the cartridge of a rubber bullet used during yesterday’s protest