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South African police fired tear gas and rubber bullets on Saturday to disperse striking miners rallying in Marikana after raids on their hostels to seize weaponry, witnesses claim.
South African police raided hostels at Lonmin's Karee platinum mine today to disarm miners after government announced a crackdown on "illegal gatherings" and the carrying of weapons.
"The aim of the raid was to disarm the mine workers to make sure that we do away with the elements of threats that are taking their toll in the area of Marikana," regional police spokesman Thulani Ngubane said.
Ngubane said police retrieved weapons such as machetes and spears.
South African police have fired tear gas to disperse striking miners near Rustenberg, local radio has reported.
South Africa's Justice Minister Jeff Radebe has warned the government that it would clamp down on the daily illegal marches by miners brandishing machetes, spears and clubs that have marked the strike.
Radebe told a news conference: "The government will no longer tolerate illegal gatherings and brandishing of weapons in this way. The police are well acquainted with how to enforce public order in South Africa."
The strikers turned down Lonmin's offer of a 900 rand ($112.50) increase that would give new-entry workers a basic monthly salary of 5,500 rand ($688), their leaders said.
South Africa's finance minister has said "unrest" by striking Marikana miners has the potential to be "extremely damaging" to the economy, Reuters have reported.
Striking Marikana miners in South Africa said they have rejected Lonmin's pay offer, according to Reuters.
The strikers said the offer from the world's third largest platinum was well below the 12,500 rand ($1,500) they are demanding to return to work.
South African president Jacob Zuma has responded to the threat of strike action by the country's platinum miners.
He said: "Illegal strikes and intimidation will not help striking miners", adding it would "make the country worse off".
He said that strikers' concern should be addressed within the "labour framework".
A leader of major protest by platinum miners in South Africa has called for a national strike in the sector "to bring the mining companies to their knees".
Protest leader Mametlwe Sebei told a crowd of several thousand striking workers that a general strike would be held from Sunday in near Rustenberg.
The first of the remaining 170 South African miners being held on suspicion of murder following strikes and protests at a Lonmin platinum mine have been released.
Following the miners release there were scenes of celebration with singing and dancing.
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