Two die as miners clash with the police

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Two people have died after clashes between police and striking miners in South Africa, including a local councillor who was apparently an innocent bystander.

African National Congress councillor Paulina Masuhlo was shopping on Saturday in the Wonderkop shantytown, where many miners live, when police firing from an armoured car hit several women.

Ms Masuhlo was hit in the abdomen and leg and rushed to hospital, where she died Wednesday, the Cosatu union said.

Police said they raided the township to disarm striking workers from the Lonmin platinum mine after the government ordered a crackdown.

Officers also fired rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades to break up a march by thousands of strikers at the Amplats mines near Rustenburg on Wednesday, belonging to Anglo American Platinum, the world’s largest platinum producer.

Amplats strike leader Evans Ramokga said a miner was run over by a police armoured car and dragged several yards before it stopped. He said yesterday the man had died overnight in hospital.

Cosatu has condemned the brutality of police over the violence, which flared up after the August 16 shootings of 112 striking miners that left 34 dead.

The latest deaths, both north west of Johannesburg, bring the death toll to 47.

Lonmin on Tuesday resolved its five-week strike by agreeing to pay raises of up to 22 per cent. Union leaders said that sets a precedent for other miners to join demands for better wages. The strike has spread to several gold, platinum and chrome mines, damaging investor confidence in the country that produces 75 per cent of world platinum needs, and is the fourth biggest chrome producer and in the top 10 of gold producers.

A police official said he was investigating the report of the councillor’s death.

The official said officers had reported to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate that several people were hit by rubber bullets.