A tense situation is developing in the Western Cape as the agricultural strike enters its second day on Thursday with a report that a community leader had been shot and wounded by private security guards.
Nosey Pieterse‚ secretary of the Bawsi Agricultural Workers Union of SA‚ said the incident happened mid-morning in the town of De Doorns‚ which has been the epicentre of the strike action.
A child runs towards a burning barricade during a strike by farm workers at De Doorns on the N1 highway, linking Cape Town and Johannesburg, January 9, 2013. Police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at hundreds of striking farm workers who blocked a highway in the grape-growing Western Cape on Wednesday, the first clashes of a year likely to be marked by fractious labour relations. Credit: Reuters
“The community member was shot by private security guards and was taken to hospital. We (the community) are negotiating with the police about what happens next as we want to march‚ but the police don’t want us to‚” he said.
Pieterse‚ whose union has been at the forefront of helping non-unionised farm workers to organise themselves‚ said skirmishing between the community and the police was on-going.
“The situations in the towns of Grabouw‚ De Doorns and Villiersdorp are very tense and there will be attempts (by the striking farm workers) to block off the N1 and N2 roadways as well as the N7 (west coast road) and the R62‚” he said.
Western Cape police spokesperson Lt-Col Andre Traut‚ however‚ said he had so far received no reports of any violence.
“As far as I am concerned De Doorns and other areas are quiet‚” he said.
Agri Wes-Cape spokesperson Porchia Adams said most permanent workers had reported for work‚ but the level of attendance of seasonal workers was unknown.
“So far it has been very quiet‚ but I have heard there may be another flare up in De Doorns‚” she said.
Running battles between the police and striking workers on Wednesday caused injuries to at least six people and cars were stoned and some set alight.
The police arrested about 44 people on charges of public violence and Traut said some had appeared in court on Thursday morning‚ while others would appear at a later stage. - I-Net Bridge