Samwu members punched, pepper-sprayed as internal fighting rages

2014-09-04 10:40

Union leaders’ bodyguards allegedly punched and pepper sprayed members to stop them from entering the Johannesburg office of the South African Municipal Workers’ Union yesterday.

“We came to work this morning and were forced out of the building. I was manhandled by three of them and pepper sprayed,” Gauteng deputy secretary Nomfezo Mdingi said yesterday, The Star reported.

The union’s national office bearers announced this week that more members, who were believed to be sowing division in the union, would be suspended, according to the publication.

About 40 members and leaders had already been suspended.

A group calling itself Save Our Samwu (SOS) was demanding a forensic audit to prove that R136 million – that allegedly went missing from its coffers because of “dodgy dealings” – was misappropriated, according to the report.

Mdingi said on Tuesday they were asked for duplicate keys to their offices.

“This is what they intended to do all along. This is a deliberate act. They hired people to come and assault us,” she was quoted as saying.

“The national office bearers are accountable for those missing millions.”

The union’s general secretary Walter Theledi said Mdingi was expelled but SOS interdicted the union from carrying out expulsions. The case would be heard in the South Gauteng High Court on September 15.

Theledi said he was at the office and unaware of the fight.

“They were not here to deal with internal union matters. They came to harass. It is unacceptable behaviour.”

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