SAfrican activist hit by police rubber bullet dies


RUSTENBURG, South Africa (AP) — COSATU condemned the brutality of police who have been harshly criticized for the Aug. 16 shootings of 112 striking miners that left 34 dead at London-registered Lonmin PLC platinum mine.

COSATU said African National Congress councilor Paulina Masuhlo was shopping Saturday near the Never Die Tavern at the Wonderkop shantytown were Lonmin miners live when police firing from a speeding armored car hit several women. Masuhlo was hit in the abdomen and leg and rushed to the hospital, where she died Wednesday, COSATU said. Police said they raided the township to disarm striking miners, a day after the government ordered a crackdown.

Also on Wednesday, police fired rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades to break up a march by thousands of strikers at Amplats mines near Rustenburg belonging to Anglo American Platinum, the world's largest platinum producer. Amplats strike leader Evans Ramokga told The Associated Press that a miner was run over by a police armored car and dragged several meters (feet) before it stopped. He said the man died overnight in the hospital.

Police spokesmen did not immediately answer their phones early Thursday.

The deaths at the two miners, both northwest of Johannesburg, bring the toll to 47 dead in violent strikes rooted in union rivalry.

Lonmin on Tuesday resolved its five-week strike by agreeing to pay raises of up to 22 percent.

Union leaders warned that sets a precedent for other miners to join demands for better wages. The strike already has spread to several gold, platinum and chrome mines, damaging investor confidence in the country that produces 75 percent of world platinum needs and is the No. 4 chrome producer and in the top 10 of gold producers.