Platinum Gazette Burgersfort, Steelpoort, Ohrigstad, Jane Furse Tel Fax 0832719151 (Editorial); 0835431676 (Advertisements) 0865549031/013-231 7147 email: Shop where Burgersfort, Morone Centre South Africa shops! Tel: (013) 231 8090 or 087 808 4022/3 ‘They klapped us’ The protest at Xstrata Alloys’ Lion plant near Steelpoort turned ugly on Wendesday night when Police shot rubber bullets at a large group of people at the crossing of the R555 between Eerstegeluk and Lannex Mine. Platinum Gazette bumped into the organisers of the protest at the Greater Tubatse Municipality’s building in Burgersfort earlier on Wednesday (photograph). They just emerged from the building, upset because the municipality did not want to approve the protest action they planned for yesterday outside the Lion smelter. “We do not understand why they do not want to approve it, we are going ahead with the protest. We have given Xstrata two memorandums, one on 21 February and one last week. We did not receive a satisfactory response to one of them. Our protest is not political, we do not know why Xstrata wants to involve politicians in a meeting with us. We do not want to talk to politicians, the company must communicate with us in a more effective way”. Groups for the planned protest started gathering on Wednesday evening, with a large group moving by foot from Eerstegeluk towards Lion, with about 20 taxi’s in tow, also full of protesters. At the Lannex crossing they were awaited by a large contingent of Police. According to one of the organisers, the Police started shooting at the group with rubber bullets to disperse them. “We just ran firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com © Platinum Gazette 1 April 2011 to get away, some of the taxi’s were also hit with windows broken. They did not warn us.” A taxi driver also spoke to Platinum Gazette, confirming what happened “men women and even children, it was a very large group of people. The Police did not use teargas” he said. When the newspaper drove past the Lannex crossing just after 05:00 on Thursday, the Police were still gathered there, stopping buses and taxis, only letting cars through on the route. Lion smelter was operating as normal behind the electric fence around the plant, with only an armoured vehicle from a security company next to the road, while at the steel bridge at the Jane Furse turn-off a police vehicle or two were also present. At about 06:00 traffic were flowing normal on the road, while the biggest group of Police at Lannex also dispersed. After last week’s article Xstrata issued the following statement by e-mail: “Xstrata notes with regret the events of the past week at Lion Ferrochrome. Project Lion is an important investment in the growth of the mining sector in Sekhukhuni (sic) and the country as a whole. It is Xstrata’s intention for the area and its citizens to benefit as much as possible while delivering the project on time and on budget. To resolve the matters raised, Xstrata has sought the partnership and help of local and provincial government in resolving the issues raised in the protest. Xstrata is eager to find lasting solutions together with stakeholders that will see the project proceeding without delay, and opportunities for local participation through employment and local procurement being communicated and implemented throughout the project period. It is also important to note that the opportunities for local participation will extend beyond the construction period” said Mr Songezo Zibi, corporate affairs manager. Mr Zibi told the newspaper that a meeting was scheduled at Lion today (Friday) between all stakeholders. By the time of going to press yesterday it was not sure if this meeting would continue after the earlier incident.