Isolated farm protests continue

2012-11-16 00:00

WOLSELEY — Farm workers held demonstrations in several Boland towns yesterday, unaware of Wednesday’s call for their strike to be suspended.

Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson ordered that copies of the agreement, that the minimum wage would be revised, should be widely distributed.

About 1 000 people marched in Wolseley and there were also protests in Bonnievale, Ceres, Robertson and De Doorns.

It was reliably learnt that heavyweights like the ANC’s Gwede Mantashe and Cosatu bosses Zwelinzima Vavi and Sdumo Dlamini were called in to crack the whip, because local Cosatu leaders were slow to make the announcement.

Western Cape Cosatu chairperson, Tony Ehrenreich said workers need to understand that the strike is not over, simply suspended for two weeks to give the government time to implement the minimum wage increase. “If they are not satisfied with the increase, the strike will continue on December 4.”

At Wolseley, a group of about 300 protesters were still milling around at 1 pm, while their leaders discussed a list of grievances with the police.

These included that eight protesters arrested on Wednesday, should be released.

They also demanded an investigation into the death of Michael Daniels (28) during Wednesday’s demonstration and of alleged police brutality at the Pine Valley settlement.

The group wanted to fetch workers who had returned to the farms, but police prevented them from doing so.

The Witzenberg municipality began work to restore water reticulation destroyed by the protesters.

At Prince Alfred Hamlet, orchards were set ablaze and trucks and packing sheds stoned.

At De Doorns, where the protests originated, it was quiet, after protesters set a roadside stall on the N1 alight on Wednesday night, and broke street lights.

They also dug a huge hole in the N1 under the bridge to the Stofland informal settlement.

The road was still closed yesterday, forcing motorists to drive through the town. The R60 between Ashton and Bonnievale is closed.

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