Calm returns to De Doorns

2012-11-15 22:24

Johannesburg - The situation was quiet in De Doorns on Thursday, following days of protests by farmworkers, said Western Cape police.

"I haven't heard reports of anything happening this evening," said Lieutenant Colonel André Traut.

Earlier, about 400 farmworkers marched to the Wolseley municipal offices to meet community leaders and the police following unrest over wages.

The march came after a call by the government and the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Wednesday to suspend the strike for two weeks pending a review of a bargaining council agreement.

Workers agreed to suspend the strike on condition that the sectoral determination for agriculture be looked at by the Employment Condition Commission next Wednesday.

Protests about wages and living conditions started in De Doorns last week and had spread to 15 other towns in the Western Cape by Wednesday.

The protests started with Table grape harvesters, who were calling for wages of R150 a day. Most earned between R69 and R75 a day.

The main road in Wolseley, Voortrekker Street, was the scene of violent protests on Wednesday.

A stand-off between police and protesters resulted in the death of 28-year-old tractor driver Michael Daniels.

The Cape Times reported that Daniels had been walking past protesters to get to the shops.

Farmworker Deon Conradie told the newspaper a senior police officer gave the order for officers to open fire.

"She said 'skiet die goed vrek' [shoot the things dead]. We got frustrated with police and some protesters threw stones and swore at them," Conradie said.

He said the crowd ran when shots were fired.

An unnamed Wolseley resident said the police had warned protesters about firing live ammunition, and that protesters had initially tried to negotiate with the police.

A second group of protesters had come from another direction and started throwing stones at the police, who responded by firing rubber bullets.

"They turned a police vehicle on its side. A farmer came down over the bridge with his bakkie. The same guys started throwing stones at the bakkie," the resident said.

"The 82-year-old man [the farmer], Tienie Crous, was hit in the head and arms. He's in Ceres Hospital in a stable condition."

A local resident helped the elderly man from his car and got him away from the crowds.

"After a while, a policeman told a resident to tell the protesters that they must please just move back and stop throwing stones because they don't have rubber bullets."

The group retaliated by throwing stones. Police fired a few shots to protect themselves, he said.

Municipal officials earlier this week put the damage caused by protesting workers at over R500 000.

  • Simon Maabe - 2012-11-15 23:43

    I used to think that coloureds are more white than black and would be compensated much better as a result. How do you feel after giving a human being R70 at the end of the shift? I pay my house manager R200 a day, something many whites can't do to the people raising their own children.

      johanttblom - 2012-11-16 03:39

      Yoh if I was so rich that I needed a manager for my house I would pay them way more than R200 a day . If that's what you pay your managers what do you pay unskilled labour? lol

      Desilusionada - 2012-11-16 04:37

      Do you provide your house manager also a free house, free electricity, running water, toilet, no school fees and free transport to the shops and free medical services? And can he take and eat freely what is available while working? And is the R200 that you pay 45% of the costs of what you earn every day?...

      gideon.walt - 2012-11-16 09:02

      People don't need to be white, they must just be civilized human beings.

      arendene - 2012-11-18 08:03

      Simon, you seem to forget that government sets the minimum wage for all labourers. Farmers also just pay what government says and most pay more. Farm workers usually also get benefits from farmers like housing on the farm, free electricity, water, etc. Economically speaking it is a tough time for any farmer. There used to be 120 000 commercial farmers in SA, that has now dwindled down to approximately 36 000. It is tough times, for farmers and labourers. Colour has nothing to do with it!

  • veldt66 - 2012-11-16 00:09

    Man that's depressing wages, definitely slave wages

  • abdulbaith.sayegh - 2012-11-16 06:15

    I've been studying SA and other African country's history and politics for the last 9 years and came to the following conclusion on SA especially the Western Cape. I studied at UWC and have learnt a lot about this country over the few years I did. Forgive me, English is not my first language, but here it is... Your first attempts in the city failed, now you are on the farms and are on track with your promise of making the Western Cape province ungovernable. ANCYL one day you will regret this. It is sad to see how the once peaceful locals participates in these violent strikes. How they (the locals) could allow those from other parts of your country to burn and plunder your beautiful picture perfect town is beyond me. DA you will never rule South Africa. Helen Zille, the uneducated ill-mannered (mostly black) masses will never allow you to. Perhaps its time to lead the Western Cape to independence? Maybe its time that minority go on their own and begin to prosper? I think time is running out DA, you need to do something quick to save yourselfs. Its just a matter of time before companies pulls out and leave. Your children are going to suffer the most. Maybe you will thumb me down and call me all sorts of names because I wasn't born here, I won't feel bad because its only words. ANCYL you are messing up a once beautiful well maintained country which you fought for, for so long. Being racist and threatening minorities are not going to put food on your tables for your children to eat. The world is knows and we are concern about the model of Africa. You are totally on the wrong path.

      anel.kriegler - 2012-11-16 09:17

      I wish i could like this more than once!!

  • davidevilliers - 2012-11-16 07:48

    Simon Maabe. Your comments are racist. I wish you would not bring color to this issue. But then again you may not be a racist. You may be stupid or uneducated? Who knows. The issue we have here is about wanting an increase of wage. This has no relationship to color, more so one of supply and demand. Yes, R70 does seem very little, this I agree. But you need to be smart. If we keep raising costs and not productivity, the our fruit will be too expensive and we will loose our markets overseas. Also, what other benefits are these guys receiving? Is your house manager a cook and cleaner too? Ha ha. Looks like you need to fid a better name. In London we call cleaners cleaners, there is nothing wrong with being a cleaner dude, wake up!

      ryyak - 2012-11-16 10:10

      Who said productivity wasn't sufficient to maintain overhead costs, specifically in this sector? Farmers, (good thing I turned down being a 3rd generation) pocket alot of profit... their workers need more!

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