Anglo American Platinum fired 12,000 striking miners today for staging an unlawful strike that is one of several that are slowly paralyzing South Africa's crucial mining sector. About 80,000 miners, representing 16% of the country's mine workforce, are currently striking in a wave of wildcat work stoppages that have serious economic and political implications for South Africa. Strike leader Gaddafi Mdoda, a mine worker at Anglo American Platinum, or Amplats, said he was one of the workers who received emails or SMS messages telling them they had been dismissed.
"Things are bad here," Mdoda said. The strike leader said he was shocked by the decision to dismiss striking workers, even though "it is nothing to be afraid of." "Approximately 12,000 striking employees chose not to make representations, nor attend the hearings, and have therefore been dismissed in their absence," a statement from Amplats said, according to a press report. Violence has been reported at the company's Rustenburg mines, where police dispersed striking miners with tear gas and bullets yesterday. A striking miner's dead body was discovered this morning, the apparent victim of rubber bullets to the stomach, said Mdoda. (Read more South Africa stories.)