S. Africa mine suspends women who refused to strip

A woman miner works at the Rustenberg chrome mine in South Africa. (AFP)
Updated 29 July 2017

S. Africa mine suspends women who refused to strip

JOHANNESBURG: A South African mine suspended dozens of women on Friday after they refused to strip as part of measures to stop workers delivering food to illegal miners, their union said.
The women who refused the intimate inspection were “assaulted and handcuffed using cable ties as if they are criminals,” the National Union of Miners (NUM) said in a statement that claimed 52 women were suspended.
Mine owner Sibanye Gold confirmed that it had suspended a number of female employees for “allegedly attempting to assist illegal miners,” but put the figure at 45.
“It is unacceptable and deplorable what these male security officers are doing at Sibanye Gold Cooke Operations,” it added referring to the mine in Westonaria, southwest of Johannesburg.
“This is the worst violation of their human rights and degrading to their dignity.”
Since January, 665 illegal miners have been arrested at the mine, and 123 employees have been suspended for smuggling food and other contraband to the illicit miners, the company said in a statement.
In June the NUM and Sibanye Gold signed a deal banning workers from taking food into the shafts in an effort to combat illegal mining.
“Clothing is searched for food items in the presence of the employee and two protection services employees,” Sibanye said.
“Female employees are searched by females and the male employees are searched by males.”
Thousands of illegal miners operate in South Africa, often drawn from neighboring Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Lesotho, risking their lives mostly in disused mines in the hope of retrieving small amounts of gold residue to sell on the black market.
Gold mining was South Africa’s life-blood for centuries and helped the country become the most developed economy in Africa but production has dwindled in recent years as reserves are exhausted.

At least three dead in multiple shooting in Utrecht, police hunting Turkish-born man

Updated 15 min 42 sec ago

At least three dead in multiple shooting in Utrecht, police hunting Turkish-born man

  • Police are not ruling out terrorism as a possible motive
  • ‘Threat level has gone to 5, exclusively for the Utrecht province’

DUBAI: At least three people have been killed and five others injured in a shooting incident in Utrecht, in The Netherlands on Monday morning.

Dutch security forces were hunting for a 37-year-old Turkish man in connection with the incident, in what authorities said appeared to be a terrorist attack. The city's mayor confirmed the death of three people on Monday afternoon.

"At this stage, we can confirm three deaths and nine wounded, three of them seriously," Utrecht Mayor Jan van Zanen said in a video statement on Twitter. The number of injured was later reduced to five.

"We are working on the principle that it was a terrorist attack," he added.

Police forces walk near a tram at the 24 Oktoberplace in Utrecht, on March 18, 2019 where a shooting took place. (AFP/ANP)

Dozens of armed police plus canine units later surrounded a building a few hundred metres away, an AFP reporter at the scene said, but it was not clear if the gunman was inside.

Police said they believed a red Renault Clio had been carjacked around the time of the shooting and had been found abandoned later.

The Utrecht municipality said it advised "everyone to stay indoors until more is known, new incidents are not excluded," but this was withdrawn at around 4:30pm local time. The local hospital said it had set up a crisis centre. Tram traffic in the area was halted.

Emergency services stand at the 24 Oktoberplace in Utrecht, on March 18, 2019 where a shooting took place. (AFP)

Authorities raised the terrorism threat to its highest level in Utrecht province, schools were told to shut their doors and paramilitary police increased security at airports and other vital infrastructure, and also at mosques.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte convened crisis talks, saying he was deeply concerned about the incident.

Utrecht Police tweeted an image of a man named Gökmen Tanis, asking people for information on him in connection with the incident — but warned members of the public not to approach him.

The main counterterrorism unit in The Netherlands, the  National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV), told the Dutch public broadcaster that the incident had all the characteristics of a terrorist attack.

Counter-terrorism forces have surrounded a building where the gunman may be located, local broadcaster NOS News reported.

There was gunfire at several locations in the city, the Dutch national counter-terrorism chief said.

“Shooting took place this morning at several locations in Utrecht,” Dutch anti-terror coordinator Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg told a news conference in The Hague. “A major police operation is under way to arrest the gunman.”

Aalbersberg said in a statement that the “threat level has gone to 5, exclusively for the Utrecht province,” referring to the highest level. 

“The culprit is still on the run. A terror motive cannot be excluded,” he said in a Twitter message. He called on citizens to closely follow the indications of the local police. 

Police spokesman Bernhard Jens did not exclude more people might be involved. 

“We want to try to catch the person responsible as soon as possible,” Jens said.

A hotline to address queries about the situation. The Netherlands has one of the strictest gun laws and ownership is limited to law enforcement, hunters and target shooters.

Local media reports have said counter-terrorism police were seen at the scene.

“Shooting incident... Several injured people reported. Assistance started,” the Utrecht police Twitter account said. “It is a shooting incident in a tram. Several trauma helicopters have been deployed to provide help.”

The 24 Oktoberplein is a busy Utrecht traffic junction, with a tram stop. Tram traffic was temporarily stopped due to the incident, but the trams are currently running again between Zuilenstein, Nieuwegein and IJsselstein.

(With AFP and Reuters)