Strikes bring city centres to a stop

2012-03-07 14:58

Johannesburg - Thousands of people wearing bright red and yellow attire sang, danced and waved placards in a nationwide Cosatu-led protest against labour brokering and e-tolls on Wednesday.

Shops were closed in Johannesburg, the country's economic hub, where the major event was taking place.

Protesters began marching from Beyers Naude Square around 10:00. Marshals battled to contain the crowd, which stretched along six blocks, when embattled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema arrived.

City of Johannesburg spokesperson Gabu Tugwana said it was too early to say how many people did not show up for work.

"We put in a process of an attendance register for all our departments where employees are expected to sign in and sign out this [Wednesday] afternoon.

"So we should have a clear indication later this afternoon," he said.

‘Everything peaceful in Tshwane’

Tshwane municipality spokesperson Pieter de Necker said the municipality had not been affected.

"We have not had any serious disruptions, but a head count is being done. As far as we are concerned everything is peaceful."

In Polokwane in Limpopo, a downpour resulted in some protesters seeking shelter under shop awnings. Others were not deterred by the chill and drizzle and continued chanting and blowing their vuvuzelas.

In Cape Town, the march got underway at 11:00 with protesters braving the blistering heat. The crowd stretched about two city blocks and took shelter under the trees to avoid the sunlight.

Others sang and danced in the street, carrying knobkerries.

Flight delays

In Durban, the strike also started an hour after the scheduled time. Numerous police officers along Dr Pixley ka Seme Street - formerly called West Street - monitored the crowd attired in red t-shirts and blowing vuvuzelas.

The Airports Company of SA (Acsa) asked travellers to arrive early as flights out of Durban had been affected by the strike.

"The company that supplies the fuel, Sky Tanking, has advised that its employees did not report for work on time as a result of the planned national strike by Cosatu," Acsa said of the delays at King Shaka International Airport.

Acsa asked passengers to arrive two hours early for domestic flights and four hours before international flights.

Toll costs

Metrorail said its services were slightly reduced in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, with "worrying" reports of protesters assaulting and intimidating commuters.

"Incidents were reported at Elandsfontein, Kempton Park, Leralla, and Kaalfontein," Metrorail said of its Gauteng service.

Services on the Leralla line were temporarily suspended as a precautionary measure. Metrorail had asked the police to help protect commuters and their trains.

Metrobus in Johannesburg asked that commuters make alternative transport arrangements because it seemed some drivers had joined the strike.

Protesters were opposed to the imminent tolling of some Gauteng roads. With effect from April 30, motorcycles with e-tags will pay 20c/km and those without, 38c. Light motor vehicles will pay 30c and 58c respectively, and non-articulated trucks 75c and R1.45.

Articulated trucks with e-tags will pay R1.51/km, and those without R2.90. Under the new fee system, the cost for motorcycles and light vehicles will be capped at R550 a month.

- Are you there? Send us your eyewitness accounts

  • David - 2012-03-07 15:09

    Lekker here in strike country! Govt , are you listening. The people are gatvol!

      Willie - 2012-03-07 15:45

      No they do not care ,they know Vavi will tell the masses to vote ANC in the coming elections

      Peter - 2012-03-07 16:13

      .... Nope, they aren't listening as they know for sure Vavi and the masse will keep on voting ANC.

      Mtizozo - 2012-03-07 16:58

      You guyz keep on referring to "they" who is "They" are you part of this country or its only They are. These are the things that you fail to grasp,

      Simnikiwe - 2012-03-07 17:00

      Of course we'll vote the ANC again, if they don't deliver we strike again, simple as that.

      Cindy - 2012-03-07 17:06

      The masses will vote ANC because there's no opposition representing the masses. It’s as if we've got dumb ass politicians throughout the political spectrum in SA, and I include the DA. The ANC is at a crossroad with its leadership, and yet the DA and opposition do nothing to exploit it. Malema was expelled so because there is internal fights within the ANC, and yet the opposition does nothing. 18 years after Apartheid and poor people still support the ANC BECAUSE WE DONT HAVE ADEQUATE OPPOSITION. No party that talks to the poorest of the poor, no party that does something for the unemployed and have programs for skill development. Nobody but the ANC, so if you drive in your Fortuner from your Santan home, you would be seen as the enemy by the masses, because you support somebody that oppose their liberators and do not have anything make their lives better. Open your eyes stupid people…

      Simnikiwe - 2012-03-07 17:09

      Spot on Cindy, at the moment there are only two parties, ANC and the rest.

      J.A.Rademan - 2012-03-07 17:56

      Yes David they will somehow blame it on Whites or Apartheid and try to usurp more power. I just hope that reasonable Black and White South Africans can make their votes count when the thieves come calling.

      paulmandlankosi - 2012-03-07 20:01

      As long as the opposition is formed by whiners and moaners, they never see my vote.

  • John Seema - 2012-03-07 15:32

    I was the hope that government head us and will take our issue to concern.

  • Citizen - 2012-03-07 15:35

    Notice not one E-Toll poster anywhere, and just how does marching in the city centre protest E-Tolling anyway, block the highways idiots thats where the Toll gates are.... oh wait the Taxis and busses dont get taxed anyway, guess what,no surprise this was not a joint E-toll protest at all was it just Cosatu trying a 2 for 1 deal...FAIL

      Marion - 2012-03-07 15:41

      @Citizen - are you blind? I saw plenty of eToll posters.

      Mzwandile - 2012-03-07 15:56

      Please Citizen which photos were you looking, there were a lot of etoll poster. What a lousy suggestion, how can you march to the etoll who are going to give the momerandum there, they are not functioning yet. Government offices are in the Cint centre. This anyway was not a disruptive march to inconvenience motorists but a peaceful march to handover a memorandum to the government.

      Xhanti - 2012-03-07 16:37

      @Citizen, You are Incredibly Stupid!

  • Alan - 2012-03-07 15:36

    If the flights are delayed at King Shaka Airport why is Acsa asking travellers to get there early????

      Xhanti - 2012-03-07 16:36

      What do you suggest?

  • Seducect - 2012-03-07 15:48

    In Cape Town I only saw 3 strikers passed me...Very quiet day indeed....

      Seducect - 2012-03-07 16:13

      And all those thumbs down? Must be some of the strikers who are back at the office...

      Xhanti - 2012-03-07 16:39

      Let me guess, you were at Canal Walk, inside the mall? *smh*

      Gedoemde - 2012-03-07 16:47

      I think he needs a double tot in a single glass for the three thumbs up, wondering what happened to Seducect numerical skills.

      Seducect - 2012-03-08 09:55

      Actualy Xhanti, I work in the city bowl...

  • Max - 2012-03-07 15:57

    striking has became part of our culture in south africa, our government only listen to our grievances once we embark on strike.

  • Charmaine - 2012-03-07 16:01

    I pray something positive will come out of this situation. Well done to the Humans who are marching for a worthy cause.

  • Daz - 2012-03-07 16:02

    We all know when election time comes around these people will all vote ANC again.... so what's the point?

      sello.maripane - 2012-03-07 19:01

      Can you just for once focus on the issue at hand?

  • Graham - 2012-03-07 16:05

    Well done union leaders - all decked out in chinese made t-shirts as were the lemmings following them. Better that they did something to provide work rather than propest something that the rich are going to pay for anyway! (taxis don't pay-remember)

      Xhanti - 2012-03-07 16:47

      Well, most of the people using taxis don't have cars. And they can barely afford transport to and from work. A lot had to be taken into consideration, the taxi were lucky because they are part of the public transport system. At the end of the day, everyone will be affected by the eToll system, directly and indirectly (food prices etc.) as it will be part of the overheads for businesses...

      sello.maripane - 2012-03-07 19:03

      Agreed Xhanti, Graham open your eyes and do some Maths.

  • Derek - 2012-03-07 16:12

    Are Cosatu not part of the alliance that helped the ruling party gain unbridled power to plunder the coffers at the expense of ordinary South Africans. They now whinge about government policies and corruption! Their duplicity is mind-boggling, and their strikes and labour policies do no favours to the economy and job seekers! I am dead against the tolls by the way.

      sello.maripane - 2012-03-07 19:10

      Derek, Cosatu, for your information, is an autonomous trade union that sought working class relief through engagement with those in power. They are not the ANC but have an alliance with The ANC. They're free to raise questions when they do not agree in policy with what the ruling party proposes. The e-tolling system was implemented with insufficient consultation from the ruling party's side - the apparent bone of contention here. Cosatu feels betrayed by the ruling party. ANC is definitely going to be around for quite a while since there's no serious alternative out there. Deal with it.

  • Jones - 2012-03-07 16:36

    why is the motor vehicle industry still making cars with a speedometer beyond 120km/h if the law in this country does not allow someone to drive beyond 120km/h , it is so ridiculous , then my suggestion is that they must make cars with a speed limit of 120km/h to avoid people like gareth driving at that speed

  • Roy - 2012-03-07 16:59

    If the corrupt Government Officials stopped stealing - and those in charge actually did something about charging them and locking them up instead of giving them promotions the Government would have enough to pay for the Toll Roads. It's a bloody disgrace - ANC = ARROGANCE...NEPOTISM...CORRUPTION

  • Mariana Ciacciariello - 2012-03-07 17:33

    ACSA is not telling the truth... We were early in Durban, and only by 6:30 AM all flights were delayed. It was chaos, nobody knew anything. SAA was useless and encouraged to get in delayed flights only to leave us stranded in JHB! There were hundreds of people losing connecting flights. The worse is their attitude: it is company policy not to wait for delayed flights. It was awful.

  • Thorsten Wach - 2012-03-07 19:13

    This is Africa!!

  • Tebogo Ngulube - 2012-03-07 20:40

    guess wht people Malema ws there and the crowd luv him as if ws nt explld

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