Illovo gets final interdict to stop violent ‘political party members’

2015-09-23 10:22
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ILLOVO Sugar has obtained a final ­interdict against “unnamed parties ­assembling on a plot adjacent to Noodsberg Mill” who recently ­embarked on violent protests against the company at its Wartburg premises.

The protesters are allegedly linked to a group of disgruntled casual workers who lost their jobs.

The interdict prevents the protesters from carrying weapons and blockading roads, and from preventing vehicles or people from entering or leaving Illovo Sugar premises.

It also authorises the police to “take such reasonable steps as may be ­necessary” to enforce the interdict.

Managing director David Howells explained in an affidavit that Illovo Sugar had historically regularly ­employed casual workers on an ad-hoc basis, either directly or through labour brokers, at peak times.

However, certain amendments were enacted to the Labour Relations Act from the beginning of this year, as a result of which the company’s policy­ ­regarding the casual workers had changed.

Illovo had set up a process to decide which individuals it would employ ­permanently, and which would no longer be employed at all.

It was not the company’s intention, nor a statutory requirement, to ­permanently employ all the individuals who were previously employed on a ­casual basis, he said.

Howells said some individuals who were not offered permanent jobs, ­“supported by a more militant national party”, had referred the matter to the CCMA. The case was heard on July 28 this year and the claim was dismissed the same day.

This had resulted in the unlawful ­detention of Illovo’s legal representative, Irvin Lawrence, and human ­resources manager Elias Sibiya, at the CCMA premises. They were allegedly threatened with violence, but were ­released after an hour.

Howells said the dispute escalated on September 14.

Protesters, wearing political ­uniform, arrived at the company ­premises “singing and chanting”, ­saying they were “going to kill ­Philemon Zondi” (a security guard). The protesters were armed with weapons such as pangas, assegais, and knobkierries, and carried placards stating they were now resorting to violence.

Howells said Zondi was attacked by the group during the fracas and fired a shot after being hit with a panga, ­assegai and “objects”.

Police had intervened.

It was later reported that a protester who was wounded had died.

Howells said Zondi’s private vehicle had been set alight, and alleged that ­police who were present “did nothing” to prevent it.

No one was arrested, despite the ­police presence at the scene, he said.

A bakkie in the manager’s parking ­area was also torched.

On September 15, a shop steward, Kenneth Thusini, was assaulted by a group when he alighted from a taxi, but managed to escape

Read more on:    illovo sugar  |  pietermaritzburg

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