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North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo on Thursday expressed optimism that the mediation efforts by Labour Court Judge Hilary Rabkin-Naicker will assist in breaking the four-month strike in the platinum belt.

Mineworkers affiliated to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) downed tools at Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum (Implats) and Lonmin mines 17 weeks ago over wages.

On Tuesday, the Judge persuaded labour and platinum mining companies to enter into mediation headed by herself.

She had been scheduled to hear an urgent application by Amcu to interdict the platinum companies from smsing employees directly regarding their wage offers, but held a meeting with the parties behind closed doors. The three days of mediation talks started on Wednesday.

“The resolve by Amcu and the platinum producers to subject their dispute to mediation is encouraging,” said the newly-elected premier.

“Ending the strike will be the first step to avert possible job losses and restoring peace and stability and bring to an end the vicious cycle of violence that has resulted in the brutal killings of non-striking workers, destruction of private and public properties,” Premier Mahumapelo said.

Premier Mahumapelo said he was concerned at the impact of the strike on the economy, especially the livelihood of miners and their families.

He thanked NGOs like the Gift of the Givers, church leaders and individuals who had responded to the plight of the starving miners. Gift of the Givers handed out food parcels to miners this week.

The premier assured that the provincial government will engage mining houses on possible interventions to address the challenges caused by the protracted strike. –