14 September 2012
South Africa’s law enforcement agencies will no longer tolerate violence, illegal gatherings or the carrying of dangerous weapons, particularly in the country’s mining sector, government ministers have warned.
Forty-four people were killed, including two police officers, during clashes between striking Lonmin platinum mine workers and the police in Marikana, North West province last month. President Jacob Zuma has appointed a judicial commission of inquiry to probe the incident.
The government was concerned about the spread of violence, threats and intimidation in the mining sector, and would implement measures to curb the situation, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said in Pretoria on Friday.
Briefing the media on behalf of the government’s justice, crime prevention and security cluster, Radebe said the ministers responsible for South Africa’s security had met and reflected on the situation prevailing in the industry.
Acts of violence and intimidation undermined economic and security stability, and if the situation continued unabated, it would make it even harder to overcome the challenges of slow economic growth, high unemployment, poverty and inequality in the country.
The government would “not tolerate these acts any further,” Radebe said, and had “put measures in place to ensure that the current situation is brought under control.”
These included effectively dealing with illegal gatherings, the carrying of dangerous weapons, incitement and threats of violence.
The law enforcement agencies would not hesitate to arrest those who broke the law, Radebe warned. “Government is making a clarion call to all South Africans to desist from these illegal acts and work with the law enforcement agencies to ensure that the situation is brought to normality.”
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa did not rule out the possibility that more police officers would be deployed to troubled areas.
“We will do everything possible in the Constitution to ensure that normalcy prevails in those areas,” Mthethwa said.
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said that if the instability and low production on South Africa’s mines continued, the cost would be noted be in terms of the country’s overall economic growth numbers.
South Africa’s current account deficit would also be affected, as would employment.
“Everybody in South Africa has a responsibility to ensure that we boost the confidence in our economy and our country,” Gordhan said.
“What we say, what we do, the violent acts we engage in, the incitement … of violence, undermines confidence in the South African economy, and if we undermine confidence, we undermine investment, both from South Africans and foreigners.”
Talks with the mining industry were ongoing, Minister of Mineral Resources Susan Shabangu said.
“We are engaging with the mining industry on a regular basis … All of us are … concerned [about] its impact on the economy, its impact on the workers, so we will continue to engage in a way that will make sure we find stability very soon,” Shabangu said.