Members of an international trade union say they're shocked and disturbed by a mining company's order for 25 drones capable of shooting pepper spray to control crowds.
"This is a deeply disturbing and repugnant development, and we are convinced that any reasonable government will move quickly to stop the deployment of advanced battlefield technology on workers or indeed the public involved in legitimate protests and demonstrations," Tim Noonan, a spokesman for the International Trade Union Confederation, told BBC News.
The drones — octacopter model — are being marketed by South Africa-based Desert Wolf as the "Skunk Riot Control Copter," Newsmax reported. An unnamed mining company made the first purchase of this new type of drone after seeing it showcased at a recent London trade event — but company officials declined to say which mine, or where it was located.
"We received an order for 25 units just after," said Desert Wolf Managing Director Hennie Kieser, in Newsmax. "We cannot disclose the customer, but I am allowed to say it will be used by an international mining house. We are also busy with a number of other customers who want to finalize their orders."
Mr. Kieser did say that other security companies both in and outside of South Africa — including police units and a "number of other industrial customers" — have expressed interest in the new drone.
The Skunk Riot has four high-capacity paintball barrels with the ability to shoot 20 bullets per second. In addition to firing pepper spray, the drones can also be outfitted with dye-marker balls and solid plastic balls, Newsmax reported.
The drones can reportedly hold up to 4,000 bullets at one time.
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