Cops fire on Robertson farmworkers

2013-01-16 14:39
(Nardus Engelbrecht, Sapa)

(Nardus Engelbrecht, Sapa)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - Protesting Western Cape farmworkers were injured by rubber bullets in Robertson on Wednesday, the Mawubuye Land Rights Forum said.

The forum's Denia Jansen said the Robertson police captain had apparently agreed to allow farmworkers to peacefully protest in Nkqubela in the morning, with more than 800 workers taking part.

"Shortly into the protest, other police officers entered the road with guns and opened fire [with rubber bullets] on the protesters, forcing them back into their communities," she said.


Captain Marshall Klaasten, Robertson's station commander, denied this version of events, saying no permission was ever given.

He said protesters blocked a busy traffic circle in town and he asked them to move so that cars could pass through.

The group refused and he had a discussion with his peers, eventually returning to tell them they could not protest.

"The negotiations lasted from 06:20 to 10:05. They agreed to walk back to the township. When they entered, they started throwing stones at police from their houses. A lot of public were around," Klaasten said.

He said rubber bullets were fired in retaliation to protect civilians.

Jansen said the forum had phoned the Human Rights Commission to "look into the matter".

She said workers had agreed to issue letters to the 32 farmers in the area, asking for negotiations around their daily wage demand of R150.

Farmworkers went on strike last year to demand their daily wage be increased from R69 to R150, and that a coherent land reform programme be implemented.

The strike was suspended in December, but resumed on Wednesday last week in various towns in the province.

Clanwilliam deal

According to the Congress of SA Trade Unions, a wage deal of R105 a day was brokered with a "significant amount" of farmers in Clanwilliam on Tuesday.

He said this was a model agreement that could be used in other towns to possibly end the strike, which had been violent at times.

The labour department is hosting an extra set of public hearings this week to garner opinions of directly affected workers, amid a review of the sector's minimum wage.

Labour standards director Titus Mtsweni said the process of writing up a report on the outcome of last year's public hearings was already underway.

Hearings would take place in De Doorns, Robertson, Oudtshoorn and Vredendal.

Principal provincial traffic inspector Jacques Mostert said the N1 remained closed at De Doorns, the epicentre of protest action.

He said motorists would have to take the Orchards offramp to get to De Doorns.

On Wednesday morning, there were reports of stones being thrown at cars by protesters in Wolseley.

Mostert said no casualties were reported.

Sporadic incidents

Western Cape police spokesperson Frederick van Wyk said there were sporadic reported incidents involving striking workers in some areas on Wednesday.

"Members are deployed in all these affected areas to ensure the safety of all. The police and other law enforcement agencies will continue to monitor the situation and act where the situation requires it.

Bronagh Casey, spokesperson for education MEC Donald Grant, said schools and their transport schemes were operating as usual in the Cape Winelands district.

"All schools have high attendance, except for one in De Doorns, which is just over 50% capacity. This school is operating as per normal though," she said.


Read more on:    cape town  |  protests  |  farmworker protests

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Competition regulation for a growing and inclusive economy

ADVERTORIAL: The Competition Commission of South Africa is conducting advocacy work in the South African automotive aftermarket industry and has gazetted a Draft Code of Conduct for public comment.

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.