Riot police break up World Cup wage demo

2010-06-14 08:09

Armed riot police charged into hundreds of security stewards at the

Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, using tear gas and firing rubber bullets to

break up a protest over low wages just hours after yesterday’s match between

Germany and Australia.

Police appeared to set off two percussive grenades, causing loud

bangs, to drive the workers out of a parking lot under the stadium after

Germany’s 4-0 win in Group D.

About 100 police later surrounded a group of about 300 protesters

on a street near the stadium and separated the men from the women. The

protesters later left peacefully after discussions with police.

Police spokesperson Lt Colonel Leon Engelbrecht confirmed that tear

gas was used to help end the lengthy protest, but nobody was seriously


A woman was hit by a rubber bullet but not badly hurt, he


Engelbrecht said the protest arose from a dispute between stadium

workers and the security contractor over pay, and that disgruntled workers tried

to stay in the venue after the match.

“It’s a concern that the security company didn’t have this settled

before the tournament,” Engelbrecht said. “Dialogue will continue to ensure this

sort of thing doesn’t happen again.

“It’s fortunate it was well after the game.”

Rich Mkhondo, head of communications for the local World Cup

organising committee, said the protest did not have any impact on security at

the match or any spectators.

‘Two hours after the end of the first match at the Durban stadium

last night, there was an internal pay dispute between the principal security

company employed by the organising committee and some of the static security

stewards employed by the company at the match,” Mkhondo said in a statement

e-mailed to the AP. “Police were called on to disperse the protesting


“This happened, however, long after all spectators had left the

stadium after the match and the incident had no impact whatsoever on the match

day security operations.

“The organising committee will engage with its stadium security

provider to avoid a repeat of the situation during the course of the


A Fifa spokesperson had no immediate comment.

Protesters said they gathered at the venue to complain about their

wages, claiming they’d been paid a fraction of what they were promised.

“We left our homes at seven in the morning and now it is nearly 1

o’clock (am),” Vincent Mkhize said. Before the tournament, “In the dry run, they

didn’t want to tell us how much we would get.”

Another of the stewards, Fanak Falakhebuengu, told the AP he had

heard they would be paid R1 500 a day but they were only getting R190.

“They were supposed to give us R1 500, that’s what Fifa told us, and

they gave us R190. We are working from 12 o’clock until now,” said another man

who asked not to be named.

Many of the protesters were waving small brown envelopes that had

held their pay. One handed to a reporter had the figure 190 written on it under

“amount payable”.

Others said they had been abandoned at the stadium after the match

and would have to walk about four hours to get home. They said no transport was

provided for them.


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