No violent incidents were reported on Tuesday in any of the areas affected by the farmworkers’ strike in the Western Cape, police said.
“In all areas it is quiet. There are small groups of people gathered around but no incidents of violence have taken place this morning,” said Warrant Officer November Filander.
“Our deployment remains the same. We are not going to leave the affected areas.”
On Monday, a police officer was injured in Villiersdorp. He was struck by stones thrown at a police station.
Police arrested 16 people for public violence in De Doorns, nine in Wolseley, 12 in Villiersdorp, and two in Ladysmith.
Workers set tyres alight at the De Doorns police station, but no damage was caused. In Wolseley, the situation was similar; protesters threw stones at police and burned tyres.
The R43 road in Worcester was closed because burning tyres were strewn across it.
Filander said at least 167 people had been arrested since Wednesday. On Monday alone, 42 people were arrested, mainly for public violence.
Farmworkers went on strike last year to demand their daily wage be increased from R69 to R150, and a coherent land reform programme.
The strike was suspended in December, but resumed on Wednesday.
The labour department was holding further public hearings on the review of farmworkers’ minimum wages across the Western Cape from Monday evening.
Public hearings would continue on Tuesday evening in Paarl.
Hearings had been set down for De Doorns, Robertson, Oudtshoorn and Vredendal for the remainder of the week, but venues had yet to be confirmed.
Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant was expected to make an announcement on the new wage determination in February. This would come into effect from March 1.
Eergisteroggend voor eerste lig al was Tshepang Thatheng – die voorman op ’n plaas by Ceres waar met appels, perskes en pere geboer word – wakker en vasbeslote om te gaan werk.
In die dorp het hy naby die polisiekantoor gestaan en wag vir die plaasvragmotor wat hom sou oppik.
Maar die stakers het geweier dat hy werk.
“Ek het my boer gebel en gesê hy moenie die lorrie vandag stuur nie. Intussen het ’n taxi wat deur die stakers met klippe bestook is, omgedraai en op die mense begin skiet,” beduie Tshepang.
Sy regterarm swaai soos hy verduidelik.
Trane loop uit die hoeke van sy oë.
Twee uur later het hy bloeiend by die Ceres-hospitaal aangekom met ’n koeël in sy linkerhand: die prys wat hy betaal het vir sy besluit om te werk.
“As ons nie gaan werk nie…Daar is baie mense in Nduli wat werk soek,” sê hy.
Sy oë is nou toe.
Op plase in Ceres, Wolseley, De Doorns en ander dorpe in die Wes-Kaap se landbou-hartland het woedende skares die afgelope week klippe na die polisie gegooi, maar hul eintlike teikens was plaaswerkers soos Tshepang wat geweier het om aan dié onbeskermde staking deel te neem.
Verslae werkers by Pine Valley in Wolseley het aan Rapport vertel hoe hulle een vir een uit hul Hop-huise gedwing is deur stakers, waarvan sommiges klapmusse gedra het.
“Uit! Of ons brand julle huise af,” het hulle gedreig.
Jack* is ’n masjienoperateur op ’n graan-, perske- en peerplaas by Wolseley en woon in Pine Valley.
Jack is “gatvol” vir oproerigheid en intimidasie.
Hy vertel van ’n ou man met ’n rooi broek – dis die rooi wat hom bybly – wat die vorige aand deur die polisie gered is nadat stakers hom getakel het.
Hy is later in die streekhospitaal gevind.
“In Montana (in Wolseley) werk hulle nog heeltyd. Ek kon Woensdag laas werk,” vertel Jack.
“Dis rassisme. Montana is ’n bruin gemeenskap.”
Werkende plaaswerkers wys die vinger na opstokers in hul buurte; nie naastenby almal wat staak, is plaaswerkers nie.
Boere eggo dié aantyging.
Die stakers vra R150 per dag teenoor die R69 per dag wat die wetlike minimum loon is, hoewel die meeste werkers heelwat meer as dit verdien.
Jack kry R110 per dag.
“Sê nou die loon word R150.
“Gaan mense soos ek wat my oor die jare opgewerk het nou dieselfde as almal kry? Of moet die boer vir ons nóg meer betaal? Hulle gaan nie. Ek wil nie eens daaraan dink dat ek my werk kan verloor nie.”
Selfs diegene mét werk leef hier gevaarlik naby aan die honger.
Aaron* woon ook in Pine Valley en organiseer werkers op ’n plaas waar perskes, pere en pruime verbou word.
Daar sou die oggend weer moeilikheid op pad plaas toe wees, is hulle gewaarsku.
Sy vrou het hom senuagtig aangekyk: Hul drie kinders moet skool toe volgende week.
Albei ouers is plaaswerkers. Hulle kort dié loon.
Om 05:30 hang die mis swaar buite hul deur.
Of is dit rook van die vorige dag se brandende motorbande?
Aaron vat soetjies ompaaie werk toe verby die “sassamakers” wat die begraafplaas patrolleer.
Hulle is ’n bende jong swart mans wat met klippe en sambokke die vori…
Business optimism may be up but serious economic and labour challenges lie ahead for South Africa, writes Phillip de Wet.
In De Doorns, the tyres burned and the rocks flew – again. Outside Carletonville, at Harmony’s Kusasalethu mine, anger brewed among locked-out workers, with the threat of violence breaking out as uncertainty drags on. And both incidents showed the promise of more to come. Neither the mining industry, particularly the gold sector, nor agriculture, in the Western Cape at least, is likely to have an easy 2013 in terms of labour relations.
The impact of the trouble on each industry will be significant. More than 5 000 miners are likely to lose their jobs before the end of the first quarter of the year, and talk of reduced workforces, scaled-down operations and mechanisation on farms is again common. The wages of workers in both these sectors maintain a higher than average number of dependents, often in parts of the country here economic opportunities are scarce.
Such gloomy prospects are in keeping with the latter part of 2012 when it seemed there was nothing but bad news to be had. In August, the Marikana massacre and subsequent strike contagion raised the prospect of an entire class of workers in revolt. In September, Moody’s downgraded South Africa’s credit rating and, in October, fellow ratings agency Standard & Poor’s followed, shortly before The Economist published a front-page article declaring that “South Africa is sliding downhill”. In December, in an open letter to President Jacob Zuma, chief executives including the likes of Anglo-anointed Mark Cutifani and FirstRand’s Sizwe Nxasana warned that, “left unchecked, our country is in danger of unravelling”. The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s business confidence index sank to a low point in the last quarter of 2012, a year in which the confidence metric was the lowest in 12 years.
But not two weeks into the new year, despite De Doorns and Kusasalethu making headlines, the sentiment appears to have swung around and there is a remarkably positive outlook in at least some parts of South African business.
The most compelling evidence is anecdotal but numbers can be found, for those so inclined, in support of it. The JSE, perhaps a more effective driver of sentiment than a metric, remains at all-time record highs, with a resulting flush of wealth for anyone with pension money in play on the markets. Business confidence, if not a willingness to invest, is ticking up. Retailers and vehicle manufacturers are expecting a decent year, if only relatively; manufacturers overall are already saying the worst is probably behind them.
What has changed? In a word, Mangaung – and it did not even require a shift in policy. The business community in general is not enamoured of the Zuma administration but it seems to prefer a strong Jacob Zuma to a new party president beholden to whatever coalition of the disaffected that installed him – in other words, a repeat of Zum…
Some Western Cape farmers have agreed to wage negotiations with unions, following a series of violent strikes.
“I believe that the groups should come forward, as they’ve indicated to me that they are prepared to talk about a settlement deal.”
Local union leaders were also at the briefing.
Unions, De Kock, and several other farmers, were expected to attend the meeting.
On Thursday police used a water cannon, fired rubber bullets and stun grenades in an attempt to disperse thousands of strikers who pelted them with stones. The strike by seasonal workers to have their R69 daily wage increased to R150 resumed on Wednesday.
The Bawsi Agricultural Workers’ Union of SA’s general secretary Nosey Pieterse said close to 6000 workers were on strike in De Doorns. Protests were also taking place in Grabouw and Wolseley.
The N1 highway at De Doorns was still closed to traffic on Thursday.
Agence France Presse reported that 18 people were arrested on Thursday, bringing the total to 62 this week.
Cosatu said the discussions were separate to those they’ve had with Agri-SA.
Source – Farmers agree to wage talks
It will go down as the most violent day of strikes in De Doorns since November 5, when vineyards were burned and shops looted in the Boland town.
Shortly after 10am, Nosey Pieterse, general secretary of the Building and Allied Workers Union of SA (Bawusa), lead a crowd of around 3 000 people from Stofland informal settlement onto the N1 outside De Doorns.
At that time the road had already been closed due to clashes between police and strikers.
The crowd on the N1 swelled to an estimated 7 000 people. Veld fires were lit along the way and buildings were damaged.
Police drew the line when strikers started moving down the main road leading into De Doorns.
They pushed the crowd back with armoured vehicles and foot patrols firing rubber bullets at will.
The injured were taken to De Doorns local clinic and some were transferred to a hospital in Worcester.
Strikers responded to the shooting by pelting police with stones. A police captain was injured in the violence.
During one of these exchanges, a car owned by Independent Newspapers was caught in the crossfire. The two occupants were journalists with the Cape Times – Xolani Koyana and intern Aw Cheng Wei.
An eyewitness to the attack, who asked not to be named, said the vehicle was obstructing strikers from reaching a police caspir – which they apparently intended to torch.
“It was unbelievably scary and chaotic. That sight is still haunting me – people just lost control. I have never seen anything like it,” she said.
The two reporters inside were forced to huddle on the floor of the vehicle while protesters smashed the windows and jumped on the roof.
They eventually escaped and, with the assistance of ANC ward councillor Pat Marran, were whisked to safety. At the house of Andries Kraukamp, a local pastor, they were treated for minor injuries and lacerations from the broken glass.
When the Cape Argus interviewed them, they were clearly still in shock.
“We are just so thankful to the people that helped us escape. Everything happened so quickly, in a matter of split seconds the situation was out of control,” said Koyana.
A petrol bomb, which was apparently intended for the police caspir, was thrown into the car after it was overturned.
Cape Argus photographer Henk Kruger was hit in the leg by a rubber bullet fired by police.
During an emergency address to strikers at the nearby Stofland sports field, Pieterse condemned the attack.
“The journalists are our messengers and allies. How can we get the message of the exploitation, the attacks by police and the suffering of farmworkers out to the world if we attack the very people who make this possible?” he said.
He simultaneously turned on police, saying that they were the real “enemy” and blaming them for “all of the violence that had taken place”.
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