South African Army On "High Alert" as Platinum, Gold Mining Strikes Spread

SOUTH AFRICAN military bases have been put on high alert for the first time since 1994, as miners continue strikes at a number of platinum and Gold Mining sites, the BBC reports.

The move is reported to be in response to planned speech to soldiers near Johannesburg by politician Julius Malema, whom South Africa's defense minister says is attempting to "mobilize against the state".

Bases have been put on high alert to "keep vigilance over the movement of our armed forces", a defense department spokesman told the BBC.

A spokesman for Malema, who was expelled from the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in April, says the meeting is a result of requests from members of the armed forces for Malema "to come listen to and voice the military and soldiers' cries and demands".

A spokesman South African National Defence Union meantime denied that his organization, the country's largest military trade union, was involved with the event.

"The information we have is that among matters to be discussed are concerns over the deployment of ANC cadres to the top structures of the defense force, poor salaries and grievances around dismissals and disciplinary matters," he said.

Malema has called for a nationwide mining strike, telling a group of striking Gold Mining workers that they should stop work for five days each month until their employers agreed to their demand for higher wages.

"They have been stealing this gold from you," Malema told Gold Mining workers near Driefontein.

"Now it is your turn. You want your piece of gold. These people are making billions from these mines."

Malema has been touring mines since last month, when police shot dead 34 people at the Marikana platinum mine, operated by the world's third-largest platinum producer Lonmin.

Since the Amrikana shootings, unrest has spread to other platinum and Gold Mining operations. Last week, around 12000 miners went on strike at the Gold Fields KDC East mine. Gold Fields said last Wednesday that this strike was resolved.

On Sunday, however, around 15000 Gold Mining workers began a strike at the neighboring KDC West site. The world's biggest platinum producer Anglo American meanwhile has been forced to suspend all operations at its Rustenburg site, while world number two Impala says it has received demands for higher wages.

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