South Africa: two dead in water riots

Two were killed Jan. 13 as South African police fired on protesters at the townships of Mothotlung and Damonsville, where residents are angry at having been without water services for a week. The townships are on the outskirts of the northern city of Brits, near the nation's platinum belt, the scene of recrnt labor unrest. Access to water is a constitutional right in South Africa, but many northern townships have been intermittently without water over the past two years due to infrastructure decline linked to corruption and mismanagement. (PoliticsWeb, South Africa, Jan. 21; AFP, Jan. 14; Sky News, Jan. 13)

Platinum production in region came to a halt Jan. 23 as up to 100,000 workers walked out at three of the world's biggest mines. Workers at Impala Platinum, Anglo American Platinum and Lonmin mines launched an indefinite strike after their demand to double the minimum monthly wage to $1,200 was rejected. The strike is aimed at "forcing the employers to the negotiating table," said Jeff Mpahlele, secretary general of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) This constitutes South Africa's largest strike since the 2012 "illegal" action at Marikana, where 34 miners were shot dead. The government said it will act "decisively" to enforce law and order. (Al Jazeera, Jan. 23)