Striking workers rob street vendors

2011-08-16 14:43

Cape Town - The South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) strike turned ugly in Cape Town on Tuesday when street vendors' stalls were destroyed and looted, transport companies were threatened, and tyres and bins were burned in the middle of the street. 

A group of protesters was joined by two larger groups emerging from Buitenkant Street and Sir Lowry Road at about midday. They then continued to march down Darling Street into Adderley Street towards the Civic Centre.

A Golden Arrow bus had to turn around in Sir Lowry Road after it was threatened by protesters, with some banging on the front windows and others hanging on the mirrors. Frightened passengers on board ran to the back of the bus.

One striker carried a piece of animal skin, which appeared to be that of a cow, on a grill and another man was carrying more skin in a box on top of his head. At some point the woman held the animal skin on top of one of the burning tyres.

Pepper spray


As the groups of striking workers progressed down the route, some looted stalls belonging to foreigners.

“They took my money and all my stock. Even the money that I keep in a bag around my waist,” said Duawood Hasan, a street vendor in Adderley Street who stood and watched helplessly as looters collected his money and goods from the ground.

Stall holder Nohuzuko Mpande of Goodwood told Olivia Rose-Innes she saw one of the demonstrators hit the female stall holder next to her before also stealing some of her merchandise.

Mpande estimates she had suitcases worth R1 000 or more stolen by demonstrating municipal workers in red T-shirts.

“They can strike, but they can’t hurt the people like this. And why weren’t the police here earlier to stop this?”

Police had to put an end to the ongoing looting by spraying the protesters with pepper spray.

While the riot police were dispersing the looters from the stall, one detained man was freed by his fellow strikers from the back of one of the police vans. The man then vanished into the crowd with police still not aware of the escape.

Samwu members are demanding an 18% or R2 000 increase, “whichever one is greater”.

Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille was later seen in Adderley Street inspecting the damage.

- Were you there? Send us your eyewitness accounts and photos

Read more on:    samwu  |  patricia de lille  |  cape town  |  strikes
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