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Violence erupts at Northern Cape mine

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Dingleton residents are unhappy about the bulldozers still hovering near their homes following a skirmish with mine security.

BRUISED: One of the residents that was shot with rubber bullets.

DINGLETON residents said that bulldozers were still hovering near their homes yesterday following a skirmish with Anglo American/Kumba Iron Ore mine security, where scores of people were injured after tear gas and rubber bullets were fired at them on Tuesday.

Community members indicated that innocent bystanders were shot at close range by mine security when they requested them to stop demolishing unused buildings that were situated close to their houses.

“Our children are lying sick in bed and we fear that they will be infected with asbestos poisoning when the buildings are torn down. Resident’s vehicles were also damaged by the rubber bullets.”

The police confirmed that protesters had reported being injured after action was taken by mine security.

Captain Sergio Kock said the police were called to intervene on Tuesday when community members protested against the action of the mine.

“A meeting and follow up meetings were called for all stakeholders with the aim of reaching an amicable solution.”

He added that the police were continuing to monitor the situation.

A resident Penelope Saals stated that she was hit by rubber bullets while she was walking in the street.

“Mine security told me to run before they started shooting but I refused as I had done nothing wrong. I am battered and bruised and full of blue marks.”

She added that there was an agreement from Kumba Iron Ore not to demolish anymore structures until a final decision was reached.

Extremely

“There are about 65 families living in the area and mining activity is happening extremely close to our homes, where we have been living for many years. This is the first time that we are experiencing violence of this nature.

“They are supposed to keep a 500 metre radius distance from the houses. We sleep with one eye open because we never know when we will be shot at and assaulted. The dust from all the activity is terrible.”

Saals stated that the demolition of the structures had started on Monday.

“They arrive at 6am in the morning. There is no mercy for us.”

Ellen van der Westhuizen said her 18-year-old daughter had to be taken for medical treatment after she suffered an asthma attack when tear gas was fired.

“My daughter, who is in matric this year, was inside the house, looking after the four other children when she inhaled the tear gas and was struggling to breathe. I got a call at work and rushed home. I found her lying on the floor after she had collapsed.”

She added that as the nearest hospital was 27 kilometres away in Kathu, she was forced to take her daughter to a private clinic as it was an emergency and the state clinic was severely overcrowded.

“A person was kind enough to pay for her admission. She would have died if her lungs were not cleared in time.”

Elizabeth de Koker indicated that she was shot in the hip and buttocks with rubber bullets.

“We were shot at during the course of the day, for no reason.”

A media enquiry was sent to Anglo American/Kumba Iron Ore but at the time of going to press, no response had been received.