Battle in Bloem as city hall burns

2017-06-21 23:29
Bloemfontein City Hall set on fire. (Supplied, Netwerk24)

Bloemfontein City Hall set on fire. (Supplied, Netwerk24)

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Bloemfontein - A battle has erupted in Bloemfontein after more than 1 000 members of the South African Municipal Workers Union allegedly set fire to the city hall. 

According to Netwerk24, police used stun grenades, rubber bullets and water to disperse them.

Engulfed by thick smoke in the city centre, the striking workers fled into the streets and threw stones and bottles at moving and stationary vehicles. 

The city hall is more than a century old and has been declared a heritage building.

Smoke triggered emergency alarms in the Volksblad building and employees had to evacuate the premises.

Two fearful municipal workers tried to seek shelter inside the building when stun grenades were fired at them.

City manager Tankiso Mea arrived at the town hall but didn't want to comment.

"The mayor and I will deliver a joint statement on Thursday," he said, while firefighters tried to extinguish the blaze.

The police arrested some of the striking workers inside and outside the city hall.

The workers were upset because the metro's executive mayor, Olly Mlamleli, didn't want to sign an agreement at the local labour forum on Tuesday, which would have given each employee a R2 500 a month increase

"We can't trust her. Olly brought shit and she must fuck off," some workers said in the city hall earlier when the meeting started. "Olly has to go," they said.

Firefighters attempting to kill the fire at the Bloemfontein City Hall. (Mlungisi Louw, Netwerk24)

'The war has started'

Striking workers said on Wednesday afternoon that some members of the national executive of Cosatu, the South African Communist Party and the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) had arrived in Bloemfontein to support them.

The Samwu leadership said: "Olly set her dog, Patrick Monyakoane (one of her executive mayoral committee members) who apparently earns R900 000 a year with just a primary school qualification, on us. We are going to set all our dogs on her.

"It can never be business as usual again. The war has started."

Samwu regional chairperson Mokhele Maphalalatse said, after being contacted on Wednesday, that about 105 Samwu employees, among them 56 union supervisors, were waiting for letters from Mlamleli to say that their contracts had been terminated with immediate effect.

"We can't say what's going on exactly. We've just heard that these letters were on their way after she saw videos made by security personnel regarding the Samwu strike."



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