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Publication Details

Reference
South African Protest News 14 December 2012 - 26 January 2013  (2013) South African Protest News 14 December 2012 - 26 January 2013 .  : -.

Summary
Municipal manager held hostage by colleagues
IOL News 25 January 2013

Kimberley - Heavily armed police officers had to be called in to deal with fuming municipal workers who stormed the offices of the municipal manager, Goolam Akharwaray, and held him hostage for several hours on Thursday morning.

Both the Sol Plaatje Municipality and the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) denied yesterday that Akharwaray was held hostage, saying that the event “was nothing but a sit-in by workers who stormed Akharwaray's office”.

However, when the DFA arrived on the scene, heavily armed policemen and women, some of whom were from the Tactical Response Team, had barricaded the corridor leading to Akharwaray’s office as well as the corridor that joins the municipality’s new and old buildings on the first floor.

Close to 100 municipal workers were also standing in the corridors, awaiting to hear from their union leaders who were still in Akharwaray’s offices.

“He (Akharwaray) will sleep here tonight. He is going nowhere until we get what we want,” some of the workers stated.

“We are holding him hostage! He is staying in that office until all our issues have been resolved! We cannot take this any longer,” one municipal worker said.

The door to Akharwaray’s office was heavily guarded by a few police officers and some municipal security personnel.

Some of the municipality’s functions including the pay-points were affected, with the tellers’ windows remaining shut for most of the morning.

Community members were forced to wait for hours or to come back later because the cashiers were nowhere to be seen.”I am angry because I’ll have to come back here later today or tomorrow to pay my rent. Clearly I can’t stand here the whole day because I do not know when they will resume work,” an elderly ratepayer said.

On the first floor, the hostage drama eventually ended at about lunch time when a deal between Akharwaray and the workers was agreed on.

“We have given him two weeks to deal with our issues or we will look at going on strike,” Samwu’s chairman at the municipality, Manne Moremi, said.

He explained that they were demanding the implementation of the wage curve agreement and the permanent appointment of contract workers.

“Our understanding is that although there is a court application to appeal the implementation of the wage curve by the South African Local Government Association (Salga) at national level, we believe that the association’s application does not affect the payment of the workers,” Moremi explained.

He said that they had also given Akharwaray an opportunity to “go back and consult with his human resource division on how best the permanent employment of contract workers at the municipality can be done”.

“The reality is that if he fails to come back to us with satisfactory answers in two weeks’ time, we will convene an urgent meeting with our members to get a new mandate from them. We can assure you that a strike could be on the cards,” Moremi pointed out.

The municipality’s spokesman, Sello Matsie, said that the workers’ problems were being attended to.

“We want to clarify that Akharwaray was not held hostage. The workers stormed his office and staged a sit-in. At no stage during the incident was his life put under threat,” he stated.

“We have told the workers that we don’t have a problem implementing the wage curve back pay as long as we can implement it concurrently with the new task grading system,” Matsie said.

He added that the issue of wage curve arose from Salga’s decision to change the grading of municipality where Sol Plaatje Municipality was moved from a category four to a category six municipality.

“This meant that we had to realign the municipality’s category, which affects the grading of our employees’ salaries and their job descriptions within the municipality.

“We have told Samwu that for us to implement the wage curve we must also implement the new grading of the workers’ job description but they have resisted this move. Therefore we cannot implement the wage curve while using the old grading system,” Matsie added.

In terms of the permanent employment of casual workers, Matsie said that the task team appointed after last year’s strike was still full at work, trying to find ways for the municipality to permanently hire the contract workers.

“The team, that is made up of the union representatives and the municipal management, is investigating if there are available posts where the workers can be accommodated.

“It will also look at the skills of the workers as well whether there is funding for the vacant posts or not,” Matsie added.

Some of the workers told the DFA that they had been working for the municipality on a contract basis for close to 20 years.

“I have been on contract since 1995 and I am earning as little as R5 000 at the municipality. How am I expected to feed my children and my wife with this salary? What pains me is that some of the people who were employed by the municipality after me, have been hired permanently,” a worker stated.

“This municipality does not care whatsoever about us. They keep on lying to us saying that they will permanently employ us but this is not happening,” another worker stated.

Police spokesman, Lieutenant Sergio Kock, said yesterday that the police were called in to monitor the situation at the municipality.

“No incidents were reported.”
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www.iol.co.za


NUMSA MEMBERS DOWN TOOLS AT DENEL
IOL News 25 January 2013

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) members working at the state-owned manufacturer and monopoly company Denel have downed tools and embarked on a protected strike action since Wednesday 23 January 2013. Our members have down tools over a long outstanding industrial dispute against Denel in relation to wage disparities.
Denel has failed to adhere to the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) signed between the union and its senior management. They action is an affront attack and well-engineered liquidation of our hard fought collective bargaining system as promulgated by the democratic state.

We refuse to allow our members to be subjected to old apartheid wage disparities, amidst the scandalous socio-economic hardships imposed on them by wrong economic choices and neo-liberal policies adopted by our nascent democratic government. The failure by Denel oligarchy to address these wage disparities, since they are a strategic state-owned entity, is nothing else, but a betrayal to the ANC-led governments’ commitments of driving decent work agenda and building of sustainable livelihhods.

We call on Denel oligarchy to concede to these legitimate and genuine demands of workers. Any dilly-dallying from Denel’s part, we will be forced to escalate our strike action until workers’ demands are addressed and resolved.

Contact:
Steve Nhlapo, National Sector Coordinator: +2783 632 6986


Exorbitant N4 toll fee sparks protest
IOL News 24 January 2013

A planned protest at the Swartruggens toll plaza in North West will go ahead on Friday, Cosatu said.

It would go ahead despite hiccups experienced obtaining permission from law enforcement last week, Cosatu North West provincial secretary Solly Phetoe said on Thursday.

Cosatu wanted to hold an overnight protest last week to demand that toll fees be scrapped, or reduced from R71 to R20, for a standard car. While it did not have permission for an overnight protest, it would be allowed to march on Friday, he said.

“We will be marching to the toll gate to demand answers on the memoranda submitted to the department of transport and Sanral to reduce the toll fees, as it put a social burden on to the poor people of the province and the country in general,” Phetoe said.

The march to the toll gate would start at noon from Swartruggens. -Sapa
www.iol.co.za


Protests erupt in North West
IOL News 24 January 2013

North West - Twenty-eight people were arrested for public violence during a protest in Kgabalatsane, North West police said on Thursday.

Protesters went on the rampage, barricading the road between Kgabalatsane and Hebron with burning tyres and rocks on Wednesday.

They were complaining about the lack of electricity in the area, said Brigadier Thulani Ngubane.

“They are saying they don't have electricity and that contributed to a lot of crimes in the area,” said Ngubane.

Pupils at the Michakgatsi High School were forced out of their classes to join in the protest.

Ngubane said residents threw stones at police vehicles and private cars. No one was hurt.

The people arrested would appear in the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate's Court on Friday. - Sapa
www.iol.co.za


Zakheleni - AFCON protest
China Ngubane 24 July 2013

About two hundred Zakheleni protesters barricaded Mangosuthu highway this evening. Sizwe Shiba said this is the way we celebrate the AFCON tournaments. We do not have electricity since last year disconnections and we were promised that by end of December 2012 will have electricity. As our leaders are watching the game through their televisions people have no electricity to switch to their televisions. We were promised a big screen for the community but nothing has materialised. This is the way we are celebrating AFCON whilst reminding government officials to stick to their promises.

Lwazi said the community is so much disgruntled due to betrayal and false promises by government officials. For how many years shall we live in the shacks, in the darkness like chickens? Government does not care for the people. The community is frustrated, government is quick to act when we burn tires, they send police to silence people and we feel that this is undermining people’s efforts to express their anger. We will not stop protests until government officials get our message clear and provide services.

An activist granny said it’s over 24 years leaving in Zakheleni shack settlements and no service delivery was ever realised. We have no money to buy paraffin for cooking, no lights for our children to study, our fridges, TVs have turned ornaments, let alone the risk of using candles and paraffin.

Police immediately arrived, police were however pertinent with the angry community. Fire extinguishers later arrived but the community took hours of resistance. Traffic was at stand still for about two hours in Mangosuthu highway, after long negotiations with the community fire was extinguished. According to Sizwe more action will be taken to ensure that government officials act faster this year and provide electricity.


Farmworkers heed call to end strike
Jenna Etheridge (IOL News) 23 January 2013

Western Cape - Western Cape farmworkers have largely heeded a call to return to work following a strike for a higher daily wage, Agri Wes-Cape said on Wednesday.

“All farming areas are reported to be quiet and workers are back at work,” spokeswoman Porchia Adams said.

She said all permanent workers and around 60 percent of seasonal workers were back at their posts on Tuesday.

This excluded areas such as De Doorns, the epicentre of strike action, where most seasonal workers were not at work on Tuesday.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) announced on Tuesday that the strike had been called off, but said it would co-ordinate “the mother of all strikes against bad farmers” later in the year.

Farmworkers went on strike last year, demanding that the minimum daily wage be increased from R69 to R150, and that a cohesive land reform programme be implemented.

The strike was suspended a week ago on condition that Agri-SA committed to “local-level” agreements and agreed not to victimise workers.

Adams acknowledged that discipline could not always be avoided.

“Unfortunately, workers will have to go through legal disciplinary procedures if it is warranted,” he said.

“Discipline in the workplace has to be consistent within the framework of labour laws. I have not heard of any cases of victimisation of farm workers by farmers/employers.”

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) said it was considering embarking on an international campaign to boycott the products of farmers who paid low wages and implemented “slave” conditions.

“We shall place this demand before the relevant Cosatu constitutional structures,” Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said.

He called on all workers to join unions.

“Farmworkers' fear is the greatest weapon the farm owners have. The second of course is the poor organisational state of farm workers.”

Jim said the union was ready to work with all Cosatu affiliates, in particular the Food and Allied Workers' Union (Fawu).

Western Cape traffic chief Kenny Africa said the N1 highway at De Doorns was re-opened on Wednesday morning.

He said it had been closed for a number of weeks because of protest action and damage caused to the road surface by strikers.

The road had since been fixed. - Sapa
www.iol.co.za


Twenty arrested in Flagstaff protest for basic services: Mass protest at court – urgent solidarity needed
Democratic Socialist Movement (CWI in South Africa) reporters 22 January 2012

Hundreds of residents have gathered outside Flagstaff magistrate court in protest as twenty of their comrades appear in court today. A protest for basic services organised by the Siphaqheni Residents Association and the Democratic Socialist Movement (CWI) in Flagstaff came under attack by the police in the early hours of 21 January. Twenty were arrested, among them a street trader bystander and are to appear in the Flagstaff magistrate’s court today on charges of public violence.

“The police stood for the violence”, says Vuyisani S’khulume, a DSM member in the area. The protest had only been going on for ten to twenty minutes before the police arrived and immediately began chasing people around and arresting them indiscriminately.

Residents of several localities around the small and impoverished Eastern Cape town of Flagstaff have long fought for much-needed improvements in services in the area. Memorandums and several marches have been ignored by the local authorities. Residents therefore decided to block the road leading into Flagstaff hoping that this desperate act would warrant government attention.

“Indeed, the government responded very swiftly this time, by sending in its police to silence the protesters”, said Thamsanqa Dumezweni, of the DSM. We call on residents in all the localities in Flagstaff to continue the struggle by reaching out for support to all residents and workers in the area – we need a service delivery general strike, not just in the Eastern Cape but in the whole country.

Protests against the heavy-handed suppression of the protest can be directed to the Flagstaff Magistrate Court (Fax number ++27 39 252 0182)
And to Ingquza Hill Local Municipality (++27 39 252 0131/61/89/91)
http://www.socialistworld.net/doc/6125


71 arrested in community feud
22 January 2013

Police arrested 71 people in Centane on Tuesday for crimes related to a three-year-long feud between two communities, Eastern Cape police said.

They were arrested at their homes, Captain Jackson Manatha said.

"The suspects are linked to various crimes, such as murder, attempted murder, and public violence that have been sweeping the two locations during December 2012," he said.

"Police recovered dangerous weapons, such as a pellet gun, eight axes, and two bush knives from the homesteads of the suspects."

Manatha said residents of the Mrhawuzeli and Mthonjeni locations started fighting three years ago, apparently about land, and a 28-year-old man had died as a result.
www.iol.co.za


Taxi drivers threaten to jam traffic
Nkululeko Nene 21 January 2013

Durban - A taxi drivers’ organisation that claims to have 1 000 members in Durban has threatened to bring the city to a standstill unless taxi owners meet them to discuss their grievances.

The SA Taxi Workers Organisation treasurer, Clement Doncabe, yesterday confirmed they had delivered an ultimatum and a request for a meeting to the SA National Taxi Council at the weekend.

The drivers were demanding permanent jobs, that their outstanding fines be cancelled and the killing of their members ends, said Doncabe.

“We can no longer have a situation where drivers are exploited and subjected to unfair dismissal… Should they fail to address these concerns, we will embark on a go-slow or, alternatively, bring the city to a standstill. We have met with Santaco representatives and given them an ultimatum of two weeks to meet with us,” he said.

Doncabe said the drivers were considering industrial action after they had exhausted other avenues, including approaching the department of labour and the Council for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration in an effort to improve their working conditions.

The drivers met at Botha Gardens, near the CBD, last week, where they aired their grievances.

Tempers flared and insults were traded when taxi owners – some of whom were carrying firearms – threatened drivers and suggested that those who were unhappy should quit, saying there were plenty of others who would do their jobs.

The drivers had drafted a memorandum demanding the following:

l Permanent employment;

l An end to the killing of taxi drivers on duty;

l That taxi owners end their unfair dismissals, threats and harassment of drivers;

l Cancellation of fines and warrants of arrest issued in the name of drivers who had been dismissed or resigned long before the road offence was committed.

Talks
You Khaliva, an owners’ representative of the Region Durban Central owners, said they were not against drivers’ rights, but talks were needed.

Bafana Mhlongo, an official with KZN Transport Alliance, said he was not aware of the demands, but would consider these once they had received them from the umbrella body, Santaco.

“During apartheid, the taxi industry started as an informal structure and was not regulated. We were hoping that the new dispensation would subsidise the industry for better work conditions,” he said.

“We have held several marches asking the government for a subsidy, but nothing has happened so far. It would be impossible to permanently employ drivers without a proper financial structure from the government. We cannot even afford to pay the workman’s compensation and unemployment insurance fund.”

Chief economist of Efficient Group, Dawie Roodt, said he doubted taxi owners would agree to their drivers’ demands.

“It is cumbersome to employ someone. This could result in more strikes. The finance minister failed to persuade the taxi industry to pay tax and regulate its operation.

“The industry contributes a lot to the country’s wealth; whenever there is a strike the economy suffers because the workforce cannot report to work,” said Roodt.
www.iol.co.za


Sasolburg protesters in court
IOL News 23 January 2013

Sasolburg - Thirty-nine people accused of public violence and malicious damage to property appeared in the Sasolburg Magistrate's Court on Wednesday.

Twenty-nine of the group, from Deneysville near Sasolburg, would apply for bail on January 30.

Magistrate C Neyt released the 10 others on a warning.

They were arrested on Monday and Tuesday during violent protests over the proposal to merge the Metsimaholo local municipality in Sasolburg with the Ngwathe municipality, under which Parys falls.

Sasolburg, Deneysville and Orangeville fall under Metsimaholo.

State prosecutor Hennie Olivier said the bail application had been postponed because the group did not have legal representation. They applied for Legal Aid help in court on Wednesday.

A handful of Deneysville residents outside the court were not happy about the news that their family members would remain in custody. Patricia Tabane, 22, said her 43-year-old aunt was arrested while watching the protesters on Tuesday.

“Police came running and everyone ran away including my aunt. She couldn't run faster (than the others). That's when they took her into an Nyala,” Tabane said.

Another resident, Mpho Mofokeng, 32, said some people were arrested when they went to school to fetch their children after the violence broke out.

“My younger brother was on his way to school when he met police,” he said.

The residents threatened to avenge the “unlawful arrest” of their relatives by setting the Deneysville police station alight.

When asked whether they were not afraid after two people were killed in Zamdela on Tuesday, Mofokeng said: “Ho shwa ke mahala, re kampa ra shwang kaofela (to die is nothing, we would rather all die).” - Sapa
www.iol.co.za

‘Cops looted Sasolburg shops’
IOL News 23 January 2013

Police looted shops during the violent protests in Zamdela, in Sasolburg, residents of the Free State town alleged on Wednesday.

“If I had a camera, I would have taken photos. They took stuff in one Chinese shop and the community followed,” said a security guard at a municipal office.

“At Save Right (a local shop near the police station) they even advised us not to injure each other, and when the ATM was robbed, their van was nearby.”

The 32-year-old man claimed that Sasolburg police were also unhappy about the proposed merger of the Ngwathe and Metsimaholo local municipalities.

He said this was evident in Tuesday's shooting, in which two people died and others were wounded when police from other provinces were deployed.

“We protested on Sunday (and) no one was wounded or died; we did it again on Monday... (there were) no injuries we heard about. So why are people being shot at when there is police from other provinces?”

Earlier in the week, police from Gauteng and Welkom were deployed in the area to help control the situation.

Police spokesman Colonel Motantsi Makhele said he was aware of the allegations that police were among the looters.

“People must come to the front if they have information,” he said.

“We welcome anyone who has information so that we can investigate this.”

Resident Nthako, 47, said he was happy Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Richard Baloyi had announced that the process of merging the municipalities had been stopped.

However, Nthako criticised government officials for not arriving at Moses Kotane Stadium, where residents had expected to be addressed on the matter at 10am on Tuesday.

Residents ran out of patience and left the stadium at 11am.

“If they came to the stadium and addressed people, no one would have died or got injured,” Nthako said.

A protester was shot dead at the Zamdela police station during a clash with protesters on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, police said another protester was shot dead by a motorist after a group of protesters tried to block his way.

Nine people, two of them police officers, have been injured since the protest started on Sunday. At least one of whom was in a critical condition.

A Jacaranda radio journalist's car was pelted with stones and a Sapa cameraman was threatened with a knife, also on Tuesday.

The situation was quiet on Wednesday and police were seen patrolling the area and taking photographs of damaged properties on the main road.

Three police nyalas (armoured vehicles) were seen driving around in the area while a helicopter hovered overhead.

Lucky Malebo, a community leader, said people had gone to hospital to check on people who were wounded.

“A list of those who were injured and those who died is being compiled, and we might get it around 3pm,” he said.

Malebo said the residents had wanted to hold a meeting at the stadium on Wednesday, but could not apply for permission as no one was on duty at the council. - Sapa
www.iol.co.za

Four killed in Sasolburg protests - police
IOL News 24 January 2013

Sasolburg, Free State - Free State police have revised the death toll in Sasolburg protests from two to four.

Differing deaths tolls have been reported by the media, but Colonel Motantsi Makhele insisted on Thursday that the official death toll was four. He said all four died in hospital on Tuesday.

Earlier this week, the police reported that two people had been killed - one of them at the Zamdela police station.

The circumstances of the second death were not clear: initially police said a motorist shot dead a protester on Tuesday, but on Wednesday Makhele said a shop owner killed this protester.

On Thursday, Makhele denied saying this. He said two people had been shot dead - one by a shop owner and one by a motorist.

He said another two protesters - and not one as initially reported - died after being shot at the Zamdela police station during a clash with protesters.

This brought the official death toll to four - two protesters shot dead at the police station, one shot dead by a motorist, and one shot dead by a shop owner, said Makhele.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) said earlier this week it would investigate the shooting at the police station.

Makhele said police were awaiting post mortem reports and the outcome of their investigations to determine whether those killed died as a result of protest-related activity or unrelated, criminal acts.

Earlier, Constable Peter Kareli said a house was stoned and a construction site was set alight in apparent criminal attacks in Sasolburg on Wednesday night.

“It appeared to be criminally motivated: people taking an opportunity,” he said.

The motive for the attack on the house was not known, as it was not owned by a municipal official, he said.

“About 12 or 13 people started throwing stones at the house, then they ran away.” No one was injured.

On Thursday morning, residents began returning to work after recent protests over municipal demarcation.

“Everything is under control, although the situation is still tense,” Kareli said.

Residents started protesting on Sunday in opposition to the proposed merger, in 2016, of the Matsimaholo municipality in Sasolburg with the Ngwathe municipality, under which Parys falls.

Co-operative Governance and Public Affairs Minister Richard Baloyi announced on Tuesday that the merger would not immediately go ahead.

Kareli said that late on Wednesday afternoon residents, of their own volition, began to clean up the debris left on the streets after the protest.

“We are still going to have a lot of police officials in the area until we are convinced that the situation is calm,” he said. - Sapa
www.iol.co.za

Sasolburg unrest likened to xenophobic attacks
Eye Witness News 24 January 2013

ZAMDELA - Foreign business owners whose shops were burnt down during protests in Sasolburg’s Zamdela township have likened the attacks to xenophobic violence that rocked the country in 2008.

Their businesses were looted and set alight when residents took to the streets of Sasolburg on Sunday, over the proposed merger of two Free State municipalities.

Four people have died in this week's unrest and many others have been injured.
Police have also arrested some 256 people for a range of charges linked to the violence.

Micash Abram has been running a business in Sasolburg for over eight years.

On Thursday, he said the future was uncertain for him and his family, after they their only source of income was taken from them.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do after this; they took everything.

“Who is going to help me?”

He said more than 200 businesses were destroyed in the township since residents went on the rampage.

Meanwhile, other businesses have started rebuilding, after they were emptied out and damaged during the violence.

More than 200 people are due to appear in the Sasolburg Magistrate’s Court soon, on a range of charges.
ewn.co.za

'Mob' besieges South African police station
Yahoo News 22 January 2012

Angry crowds of protesters surrounded a police station in a South African industrial town Tuesday as bloody riots threatened to turn deadly, police said.

"We ourselves are under attack at Zamdela police station," a nervous female police officer said by telephone.

"The mob is now attacking. They are surrounding the building. They're trying to break in," she told AFP in a shaky voice. The officer refused to give her name.

Police fired rubber bullets and water cannon to disperse thousands of protestors in Zamdela, a shantytown next to the industrial town of Sasolburg some 85 kilometres (50 miles) south of Johannesburg, the Mail and Guardian newspaper reported.

Zamdela residents have been protesting since Sunday against the town's incorporation into a neighbouring municipality.

The crowds started fires, blocked roads and looted shops, local media reported.

On Tuesday protesters turned on journalists, and a French photographer was hit on the head with rocks.

"We were driving out of the informal settlement ... and a group of about 20 (to) 40 guys turned on the car and started pelting it with rocks," said Alon Skuy, photographer with The Times newspaper.

"We drove through to try to escape. All the windows were broken. In the process (the photographer) was hit in the head. She went immediately to hospital. She's fine now," he told AFP by phone.

Around 190 people have been arrested since Sunday, according to Sapa news agency.
za.news.yahoo.com

Sasolburg brimming with anger as protesters regroup
Mail & Guardian 22 Jan 2013

About 2 000 protesters with rocks have gathered at a stadium in Sasolburg following violent demonstrations against a recent municipal demarcation.

Police would not confirm whether two protestors had died after violent clashes between police and protesters in Zamdela on Tuesday.

A bakkie filled with protestors made its through police barricade, between Zamdela Stadium and Sasolburg Refinery.

All occupants of the car were seriously injured with one claiming police shot at him with live ammunition.

Several hundred protesters surrounded the Zamdela police station and attempted to set the station alight. More police were sent to clear the area around the police station, while a running battle ensued between police and protesters on the streets of Zamdela.

Earlier on Tuesday, a protester threatened a South African Press Association (Sapa) journalist with a knife and other journalists' cars were pelted with rocks while they waited for Free State Premier Ace Magashule to arrive in the area.

"A man in his mid-20s, who wore a colourful bandana and no shirt, approached me and asked why I was shooting [footage] and that I should stop," said Sapa cameraman Vumani Mkhize.

He was at the Moses Kotane Stadium in Zamdela, in the Free State, the scene of violent protests over the past few days.

"I ignored him and the man again said that I should only start shooting when Ace Magashule arrives. He then pulled out a knife in full view of the crowd. I picked up my camera equipment and started to walk away.

"He then walked towards me and asked to look at my equipment. I ignored him and walked away." The protester then left Mkhize alone.

Police also confirmed on Tuesday that a station in Zamdela, Sasolburg had been set alight, and a Telkom office was also on fire.

No school
Some residents carried umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun as they waited for Minister of Cooperative Governance Richard Baloyi to arrive and address them at the stadium. A group inside the stadium sang and chanted struggle songs.

Children said they had been told not to go to school. Some said they had gone, but their teachers were not there.

Roads in the area were covered with burnt debris on Tuesday. A police helicopter hovered overhead to keep a watch on protesters.

Police said on Tuesday morning that 187 people had been arrested since Sunday in the protests, which were apparently about plans to merge Sasolburg with the Ngwathe local municipality, under which Parys falls.

Constable Peter Kareli said no violence was reported on Monday night.

On Monday, protesters set two trucks alight and injured two police officers inside a nyala (armoured vehicle), which became stuck in mud.
mg.co.za

Police reinforcements for Sasolburg
IOL News 21 January 2013

Sasolburg - Police reinforcements have been brought in from Gauteng and Welkom to help manage a protest by residents of Zamdela township in Sasolburg, Free State police said on Monday.

“We have manpower now,” Constable Peter Kareli said.

“Everything is under our control and we want to keep it under our control.”

Kareli said some of the protesters had gone home. Others sat on street corners, throwing stones at passing police vehicles.

Earlier, residents protesting against municipal demarcation plans set two trucks alight. They injured two police officers inside a Nyala (armoured) vehicle when it became stuck in the mud.

Kareli said water cannons and rubber bullets were used to disperse the crowd.

Co-operative Governance Minister Richard Baloyi was expected to meet officials from the Fezile Dabi municipality on Monday afternoon to discuss the protesters' grievances.

The protests started on Sunday when residents came out of a meeting about municipal demarcation. They were apparently unhappy about plans to merge Sasolburg with the Ngwathe local municipality, under which Parys falls.

Nearly 90 people were arrested and charged with public violence on Sunday when they ran amok and looted shops in the township.

“More people were arrested at around 3am this morning (Monday) as they continued to loot shops,” Kareli said.

It was estimated 150 people had been taken into custody.

Those arrested on Sunday were expected to appear in the Sasolburg Magistrates' Court on Monday on charges of public violence. - Sapa
www.iol.co.za

Sasolburg protest violence intensifies
SABC 21 January 2013

The Public Order Policing Unit is reported to have used live ammunition to disperse protesters in Zamdela, Sasolburg in the northern Free State.

Violence has intensified in the area where residents have been burning and looting buildings since the early hours of this morning.

A delivery truck has been hijacked. The hijackers used it to try and break open an ATM at the local shopping centre.

Residents started their protest yesterday after a public meeting regarding the proposed merger of the Metsi-maholo and Ngwathe municipalities.

Learning has also been affected in the township as children stayed away from schools for their own safety.

The Congress of the People (COPE) has called on Free State Premier Ace Magashule and his government to listen to the wishes of the people of Sasolburg and stop taking unilateral decisions.

COPE MP, Dennis Bloom has said that the situation demands immediate attention.
www.sabc.co.za

Protesters torch trucks
IOL News 21 January 2013

Sasolburg, Free State - Residents of Zamdela township in Sasolburg set fire to two trucks during a protest on Monday, Free State police said.

“A truck standing a few metres away from the police station has been destroyed by the crowd. It is now on fire,” Constable Peter Kareli said.

“There is another truck being destroyed by the R82 (road). It (the situation) is getting worse.”

Kareli said provincial police management had arrived to see what they could do. More police officers were being brought in.

Residents, who were protesting against municipal demarcation plans, were throwing stones and had barricaded the road.

Two police officers were injured earlier in the day. A police Nyala (armoured) vehicle had become stuck in mud and protesters had attacked the officers inside.

Kareli said water cannons and rubber bullets were used to try and disperse the crowd.

Co-operative Governance Minister Richard Baloyi was expected to meet officials from the Fezile Dabi municipality on Monday afternoon to discuss the protesters' grievances.

The protests started on Sunday when residents came out of a meeting about municipal demarcation. They were apparently unhappy about plans to merge Sasolburg with the Ngwathe local municipality, under which Parys falls.

Nearly 90 people were arrested and charged with public violence on Sunday when they ran amok and looted shops in the township.

“More people were arrested at around 3am this morning (Monday) as they continued to loot shops,” Kareli said.

The total number of those arrested since Sunday had not yet been officially tallied, but it was estimated that almost 150 people had been taken into custody.

Those arrested on Sunday were expected to appear in the Sasolburg Magistrates' Court on Monday on charges of public violence. - Sapa
http://www.iol.co.za

Sasolburg residents continue to protest
IOL News 21 January 2013

Free State - Residents of Zamdela township in Sasolburg, Free State continued to protest against municipal demarcation plans and barricaded roads on Monday morning, police said.

“The protests started again just after 5am today (Monday). Main roads into the Zamdela township have been barricaded...tyres are burning,” said police spokesman Constable Peter Kareli.

Learning had come to a standstill as children in the township stayed away from schools in the morning, he said.

The protests started on Sunday when residents came out of a meeting about municipal demarcation.

They were apparently unhappy about plans to merge Sasolburg into the Ngwathe Local Municipality, which Parys falls under.

Nearly ninety people were arrested and charged with public violence on Sunday after they went amok and looted shops in the township.

“More people were arrested at around 3am this morning (Monday) as they continued to loot shops,” Kareli said.

The total number of those arrested since Sunday has not been officially tallied yet and it is estimated that almost 150 were arrested.

Those who were arrested on Sunday are expected to appear in the Sasolburg Magistrates' Court on Monday to face charges of public violence. - Sapa
www.iol.co.za

Dozens held after Sasolburg protests
IOL News20 January 2013

Free State police have arrested nearly 90 people after protests that turned violent in Sasolburg this weekend.

Johannesburg - Nearly ninety people were arrested during protests in Sasolburg on Sunday, Free State police said.

Constable Peter Kareli said the protest began at around 9.30am, when residents came out of a meeting about municipal demarcation.

The residents were apparently unhappy about plans to merge Sasolburg into the Ngwathe Local Municipality, which Parys falls under.

Kareli said the group divided into three, and the crowds began barricading streets, burning tyres and throwing stones at police cars.

Police tried negotiating with the protesters, but to no avail.

Windows were broken and shops were looted.

Kareli said police arrested 48 people in possession of goods looted from the shops.

Another 39 people were arrested for public violence.

Those arrested would appear in court soon. - Sapa




Nigerians protest against alleged police brutality
Eye Witness News 18 January 2013

CAPE TOWN - Nigerian nationals say they are fed up with alleged police brutality and are taking their plight to Parliament.

They are marching from Keizergracht Street though the Cape Town central business district.

They claim a Nigerian man died at the hands of police.

The man’s death in police custody has angered his fellow countrymen.

Although they say the circumstances surrounding the 32-year-old’s death are unclear, they are adamant police had a hand in it.

Protesters are armed with placards, some of which read “stop police brutality”.

They say the can no longer keep quiet and they claim this is not the first immigrant to die at the hands of police.
Officers are keeping an eye on the march.
ewn.co.za


Farmerworkers to march next week
IOL News 18 January 2013

Cape Town - Striking farmworkers will march in De Doorns next week, not on Friday afternoon, to hand over a “peaceful strike policy”, the Food and Allied Workers' Union (Fawu) said.

“There has been confusion among shop stewards. But this march will take place on January 24 (next Thursday) to the De Doorns police station,” Western Cape organiser Sandile Keni said.

“This memorandum calls for both workers and police to stop the violence. One of the reasons is because of the shooting [of rubber bullets] by police.”

The strike, which started last year, was suspended in December, but resumed last Wednesday in various towns in the province.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) announced a week-long suspension of the strike on Tuesday, on condition that AgriSA honour commitments to “local-level” agreements and agree to stop the victimisation of workers.

Cosatu's Western Cape secretary Tony Ehrenreich said the suspension excluded De Doorns, because workers there were standing by their demands and were not open to negotiations.

AgriSA has repeatedly called for individual farmers to negotiate with their workers at farm level, which is apparently taking place.

Keni said they were planning to meet with a farmer in De Doorns on Friday afternoon, who had approached them and asked to hold a meeting.

“We believe we'll be having an offer, and we appreciate that,” Keni said.

A mass meeting would then be held in De Doorns on Sunday.

The Transvaal Agriculture Union (Tau-SA) said it feared the strike, which had been violent at times, would result in increased violent crime on farms.

“Unfounded accusations blaming farmers [for] exploiting their employees, illegal evictions, or the accusation that farmers have stolen the land to which they [employees] hold title deeds, creates a perception that farmers are criminals who need to be shown no mercy,” said Tau-SA deputy president Henry Geldenhuys.

“This is reflected in the extreme cruelty which characterises farm attacks... Farmers need to ensure that their security arrangements are in place.”

Geldenhuys said farmers had no choice but to accept responsibility for their own safety, stating that three people had been killed in nine farm attacks this year.

On Monday, spaza shop worker Letsekang Thokoene, 25, died when he was allegedly shot with rubber bullets in De Doorns.

The same day, a 10-year-old girl was apparently shot in the eye with a rubber bullet.

The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on Thursday said it was investigating over 20 complaints of brutality against farmworkers by police, farmers, and private security.

Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) spokesman Moses Dlamini said he had received from the SAHRC numerous reports of cases involving police, mostly of assault and the use of rubber bullets at close range.

The labour department is holding an extra week of public hearings in the province to assist in the determination of a new minimum wage for the sector.

Hearings have already taken place in Grabouw, Paarl, De Doorns, and Robertson, with the last two to be held in Oudtshoorn and Vredendal.

Department spokesman Mokgadi Pela said an announcement on the new minimum wage determination was expected next month, with effect from March 1.
www.iol.co.za

Farm workers to hand over ‘peace policy’
Jenna Etheridge 18 January 2013

Western Cape - Striking farmworkers will march in De Doorns on Friday morning to hand over a “peaceful strike policy”, the Food and Allied Workers' Union (Fawu) said.

“We are going to the police and farmers to give them this policy. We are still continuing with the strike but are trying a new strategy,” Fawu shop steward Monwabisi Kondile told Sapa.

“The whole of South Africa thinks we are criminals, but we are not. It's not about violence to resolve something. We are coming with peace to resolve things.”

The shop steward said their demand stood at R150 for a daily wage. However they were keen to negotiate, even looking at between R120 and R130.

“We want peace on both sides. We want to negotiate,” he said.

About 3 000 workers were expected to take part in the march, which would start around 11am, pass the De Doorns police station and end at the Hex River Valley Table Grapes Association.

Kondile said workers would use a back road for the march instead of the N1 highway, which remained closed on Friday due to the protest action.

“We don't want to disturb the N1 because it's a national road and we understand that.”

Thousands of striking workers marched for kilometres along the N1 on Thursday afternoon, braving extreme heat to protest for an increase in their daily wage and a coherent land programme.

The march was led by the Black Association of the Wine and Spirit Industry (Bawsi), which represented a large number of non-unionised workers.

The strike, which started last year, was suspended in December but resumed last Wednesday in various towns in the province.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) announced a week-long suspension of the strike on Tuesday, on condition that Agri SA honour commitments to “local-level” agreements and agree to stop the victimisation of workers.

Cosatu's Western Cape secretary Tony Ehrenreich said the suspension excluded De Doorns, because workers there were standing by their demands and were not open to negotiation.

The agriculture department estimated the number of permanent and seasonal workers in the province at around 200,000.

Of these, only five percent were said to be unionised.

The Transvaal Agriculture Union (Tau-SA) said it feared the strike, which had been violent at times, would result in increased violent crime on farms.

“Unfounded accusations blaming farmers exploiting their employees, illegal evictions, or the accusation that farmers have stolen the land to which they hold title deeds, creates a perception that farmers are a criminals who need to be shown no mercy,” said Tau-SA deputy president Henry Geldenhuys.

“This is reflected in the extreme cruelty which characterises farm attacks... Farmers need to ensure that their security arrangements are in place.”

Geldenhuys said farmers had no choice but to accept responsibility for their own safety, stating that three people had been killed in nine farm attacks this year.

The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on Thursday said it was investigating over 20 complaints of brutality against farmworkers by the police, farmers and private security.

The labour department was holding an extra week of public hearings in the province to assist in the determination of a new minimum wage for the sector.

Hearings had already taken place in Grabouw, Paarl, De Doorns and Robertson, with the last two to be held in Oudtshoorn and Vredendal.

Department spokesman Mokgadi Pela said an announcement on the new minimum wage determination was expected next month, with effect from March 1. - Sapa
www.iol.co.za

Police close highway at De Doorns
IOL News 18 January 2013

Western Cape - The N1 highway remained closed at De Doorns, the epicentre of a farmworker strike, on Friday morning, Western Cape police said.

Lieutenant-Colonel Andrè Traut said there were no reports of violence but groups of people had gathered in the area.

Traffic was being diverted through the town.

Thousands of striking workers marched for kilometres along the same stretch of highway on Thursday afternoon, braving extreme heat to protest for a daily wage of R150 and a coherent land programme.

The march was led by the Black Association of the Wine and Spirit Industry (Bawsi), which represented a large number of non-unionised workers.

The strike, which started last year, was suspended in December but resumed last Wednesday in various towns in the province.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) announced a week-long suspension of the strike on Tuesday, on condition that Agri SA honour commitments to “local-level” agreements and agree to stop the victimisation of workers.

Cosatu's Western Cape secretary Tony Ehrenreich said the suspension excluded De Doorns, because workers there were standing by their demands and were not open to negotiation.

The agriculture department estimated the number of permanent and seasonal workers in the province at around 200 000.

Of these, only five percent were said to be unionised. - Sapa
http://www.iol.co.za/news/crime-courts/police-close-highway-at-de-doorns-1.1454265


Sparks fly at electricity hearing
Kamcilla Pillay and Bheki Mbanjwa (IOL News) 17 January 2013

Durban - Hundreds of protesters gathered outside a public hearing at Durban’s ICC today into Eskom’s application for a series of 16 percent electricity price hikes.

”The only loud voice in support of the tariff increase has been that of the government,” said South Durban Community and Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) project co-ordinator, Desmond D’sa.

“(We) are calling on authorities to reject Eskom’s application. The reality is that South African citizens are in for a long ride of suffering because Eskom is failing to deliver clean, affordable and accessible electricity to the (people).”

Eskom has applied for an average price increase of 16 percent for each of the five years of the (multi-year price determination (MYPD) from April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2018.

Protesters carried placards emblazoned with messages such as: “A 16 percent increase means 16 percent more misery” and “Eskom are crooks”.

There were protests outside the hearings in Cape Town on Tuesday and hearings were disrupted in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday.

“The public hearing was adjourned due to disruption by members of the National Union of Metal Workers (Numsa) inside the venue,” spokesman, Charles Hlebela, said.

In a statement, Numsa national spokesman, Castro Ngobese, denied that union members caused the disruption and called Nersa’s comments “poisonous and malicious”.

Thursday’s hearings in Durban started with Mohammed Adam, manager of Regulation and Governance at Eskom, making a case for the proposed tariff hikes.

Adam said these were needed to cover costs for supplying power to the country and to invest in future operations. One of the major cost drivers was the price of coal. He said the coal costs were escalating at a higher rate than inflation.

Of the proposed 16 percent, 13 was needed for Eskom’s operational needs and 3 would be used to support new, independent power producers.

He said the power utility had looked at the mechanism to protect the poor.

“We propose protection for the poor through a tariff structure with cross subsidies.”

Urban customers would contribute to subsidise mainly the poor and rural households, said Thsolofelo Molefe, Eskom’s group executive for customer services.

She said these were necessary to protect the poor, but admitted that these subsidies were not sustainable in the long term.

Part of Eskom’s needs related to infrastructure spending.

The power utility would be spending about R337 billion over the next five years on capital expenditure. This includes the completion of the new Kusile power station and also maintaining the existing infrastructure.

The power utility also said it had committed to R30 billion savings.

The poor household would also continue getting free basic electricity of 50 kilowatts (kW) a month, which was government policy. Some municipalities gave more than the 50kW a month.

Thomas Funke, the director of Industrial Affairs at the SA Cane Growers’ Association, said that the industry was among the biggest users of electricity with some of the farms depending on irrigation.

Forecasts by the industry showed that the net operating income would come down by 19.4 percent if the proposed tariffs were effected. Funke said cane growers were already struggling due to high oil and fertiliser prices.

“The increases would render irrigated sugar cane in SA uncompetitive.”

He said this could lead to at least the closure of four mills and could put 35 000 jobs at risk.

This would also impact negatively on food security, he said.

Outside, protesters said the increase, if granted, would push them over the edge.

“I’m a pensioner. My husband died nine years ago. Some months my light bill comes to R900. How am I supposed to manage?” asked Mary-ann van Zyl of Wentworth.

Smitha Deonath, 24, of Merebank, said that the public was being charged more for power because Eskom insisted on selling electricity cheaply to larger companies.

“And we still have to endure their ridiculous power cuts.” - Daily News
www.iol.co.za


Protests close nursing college
IOL News 16 January 2013

Johannesburg - The Chris Hani Baragwanath Nursing College has been closed indefinitely because of student protests, the Gauteng department of health said on Wednesday.

Health MEC Hope Papo said students were expected to vacate the college by Wednesday afternoon.

The closure of the college follows a week-long illegal protest and class disruptions by students, who demanded that three heads of department (HODs) should be removed from the college.

“The students have also defied a court interdict compelling them to stop the protest and return to classes,” said Papo.

He said the department remained committed to addressing whatever legitimate grievances the students had.

However, the department would not “act unlawfully against any of its staff members”.

The dispute over the HODs started in 2011 when the students submitted grievances demanding the removal of the staff members, among others.

Papo said the department had taken all reasonable steps to resolve the dispute, but the students remained adamant.

In 2011, the department instituted an investigation into the students' grievances.

The reporting lines of the HODs were temporarily changed during the investigation and they did not report to the college, he said.

Investigation teams completed their report in February 2012. Meanwhile the HODs declared a dispute over the changing of their reporting lines.

They sought and won an arbitration award, allowing them to return to work in August 2012.

In reaction to the HODs return, students protested and disrupted the functioning of the college.

Management then agreed that the HODs should go on special leave to allow the department to bring the situation back to normality. Papo said a series of meetings were held with the student representative council (SRC) to find a solution.

“The department even appointed a private mediator to assist the process of finding an amicable solution to the impasse.

“The students however refused to participate in the mediation process,” he said.

Strikes resumed on January 7 and the situation deteriorated, with students refusing to attend classes. - Sapa
www.iol.co.za


NUMSA STATEMENT ON THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS AT MEDUPI POWER PLANT
Numsa 22 January 2013

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) condemns the spurious lies being spread to the public pertaining to the real reasons which have led to the closure of the Medupi Power Station, in Lephalale, Limpopo province. These lies are reminiscent of the Nazi propaganda under Josef Goebbels.

The purported claims that workers as led by Numsa are being used to sabotage the long-overdue completion of Medupi Power Station are totally untrue and we view them as an odorous attack on the leadership collective of this glorious metal workers union.

The truth is that a significant number of workers had their bonuses and salaries docked during the December 2012 holiday’s period.

The workers were not certain whether this was done deliberately or otherwise. But this matter was raised internally by workers with Medupi authorities in order for Medupi to address the complaints and resolve them amicably. Instead of the matter being addressed, workers have endured all manner of victimisation, including a lock-out, which has led to this ongoing strike and violent unrest at the power station over the past four days.

Workers are within their right to demand monies which were deducted wrongfully from their remunerations given the socio economic hardships faced by their family members and siblings. The arrogance as displayed by the authorities at Medupi in resolving this matter is not helpful. We will not be surprised if this move by the authorities is part of their ill-conceived strategy of profit maximization by stealing from workers’ salaries and bonuses.
The union leadership has since held talks with Eskom in order to find a solution on this matter in the interest of workers. A joint task team working with independent auditors are busy verifying all the necessary information in order to ascertain why huge monies were docked from workers’ bonuses and salaries. The findings of the team will be presented to all parties, particularly to the aggrieved workers.
A detailed action plan to correct these dodgy deductions will be presented and be subjected to a democratic process for approval.
Contact: Castro Ngobese, National Spokesperson: +2783 627 5197

Medupi operations remain suspended
IOL News 17 January 2013

“We are not closed but most operations are suspended. However, there are people on site,” spokeswoman Hilary Joffe said.

“We are working with the contractors to engage with workers so we can get operations on the site back to normal as soon as possible.”

On Wednesday, 25 workers were injured when violence broke out as strikers tried to stop buses from taking their colleagues to the construction site, Joffe said.

“There were disruptions to the bus transport and strikers pelted the buses with stones. As Eskom we do not condone violence,” she said.

“Yesterday's protest mainly involved workers affiliated to the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) who are employed by Hitachi Kaefer and Murray & Roberts Projects,” she said.

On Wednesday, Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim claimed management provoked the protest.

“We think that companies at Medupi are extremely mischievous and we think that there is a deliberate agenda to consistently create frustrations and to provoke workers for the sole intention of delaying the project so that they extend their benefits in that project.”

He said last week workers queried the bonuses they were paid.

On Friday, about 1 100 workers employed by Alstom Kentz at Medupi went on strike, resulting in the company locking them out.

Eskom said Medupi's first unit was expected to start generating power to South Africa's national grid by the end of the year. - Sapa
www.iol.co.za

25 hurt at Medupi protest
IOL News 16 January 2013

Lephalale - Twenty-five workers were injured during a protest at the Medupi power station in Lephalale, Limpopo, on Wednesday, Eskom said.

Violence broke out when strikers tried to stop buses taking their colleagues to the construction site, the parastatal said in a statement.

Meanwhile contractors were trying to bring work at the site back to normal. It was temporarily closed on Wednesday morning because of the strike.

“The protest action, by a group of workers employed by contractors at Medupi, resulted in workers being sent home, to ensure the safety of people and assets on the site.

“Eskom cannot condone violence. We wish those workers who have been injured a speedy and complete recovery.”

The utility said the circumstances around the industrial action were being investigated.

“Today's protest mainly involved workers affiliated to the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) who are employed by Hitachi Kaefer and Murray & Roberts Projects.”

Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim claimed management provoked the protest.

“We think that companies at Medupi they are extremely mischievous and we think that there is a deliberate agenda to consistently create frustrations and to provoke workers for the sole intention of delaying the project so that they extend their benefits in that project.”

He said last week workers queried the bonuses they were paid.

“Management was not prepared to co-operate and they refused to speak to their full time shop stewards.”

On Friday about 1100 workers employed by Alstom Kentz at Medupi went on strike, resulting in the company locking them out.

“Today was a culmination of all that frustration. There's no doubt we must talk to our members. We cannot allow fights between our members,” Jim said.

Eskom said Medupi's first unit was expected to start generating power to South Africa's national grid by the end of the year. - Sapa
www.iol.co.za

Medupi temporarily closed
SABC 16 January 2013

The Medupi power station in Lephalale, Limpopo, was temporarily closed on Wednesday after construction workers went on strike, Eskom said.

Eskom spokesperson Hilary Joffe says: "Construction workers had a protest action this morning and Eskom sent home the workers for safety reasons".

"No injuries or damage has been reported. Eskom is working with contractors to restore the operations as usual." Joffe could not comment on the reasons for the protest.
www.sabc.co.za


Workers protest Amplats's retrenchment plans
Mail & Guardian 16 January 2013

Overnight workers at Anglo American Platinum's Rustenburg operations refused to go underground to protest company plans to close mines.

"They didn't go underground," Evans Ramogka, a labour leader and activist at an Amplats mine in Rustenburg, said on Wednesday.

A company spokesperson said she could not immediately comment because she was waiting for an operational update from managers at the mines.

Local media reported workers would be meeting later to plot wider strike action after Amplats, a unit of global mining group Anglo American, unveiled plans on Tuesday to mothball two South African mines, sell another and cut 14 000 jobs.

Amplats, the world's number one platinum producer, said the initiatives were needed to restore profits.

But the company also risks provoking a repeat of last year's violent wildcat strikes that left over 50 people dead.

Amplats said on Monday it would likely fall to a full-year loss because of last year's costly strikes.

'Regrettable'
Meanwhile, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu said on Tuesday the retrenchment plans by the company came as a shock to the government.

"It is regrettable that the company consulted with [my] department less than seven days ago, despite the major socioeconomic ramifications of its decision," she told reporters in Pretoria on Tuesday. "We are surprised and shocked ... "

The mining giant announced the possible job cuts earlier in the day, saying this would form part of a major restructuring at its strike-hit South African operations.

The firm would close four shafts and sell a mine considered unsustainable, it said.

"As a result of the proposed changes to the business, a total of up to 14 000 jobs may be affected – 13 000 of which will be in the Rustenburg area."

Anglo's 'change of leadership'
Shabangu said Anglo American approached her department last year to say it was facing problems and considering restructuring. She said the company was told to discuss any such plans with the department first.

Yet, the company waited until seven days ago to do so. Shabangu asked if this was a sign of new company management.

"When the horse has bolted, then they come to us."

She was referring to Mark Cutifani, who would replace outgoing chief executive Cynthia Carroll in April.

The minister said the company's mining rights were renewed in 2010 for 30 years, on condition the mining programme was uninterrupted and operated at maximum capacity.

"Anglo American Platinum imposed large-scale retrenchments in 2009, and [Monday's] announcement seems to present a pattern of unsustainable business decisions linked to change of leadership in the company," Shabangu added.

Effects of retrenchment
She said it was clear to the department this decision lacked vision and long-term business planning.

"In our analysis Anglo American omitted to invest in the future sustainable development of the mine."

The minister said her department regretted the company's conduct in making such an important business decision that would affect the country's economy.

She said miners and their families would be severely affected by such retrenchments as there was little work in and around Rustenburg.

"It tends to create a grim future for those workers," Shabangu said.

The company's plans to move fired workers to other industries, such as bricklaying, were not sustainable.

"You can't train at the tail end of everything ... those skills are not created in a sustainable way. They must not talk about sectors they do not understand."

The department would review whether the entire Anglo American portfolio complied with existing legislation. – Reuters, Sapa
mg.co.za


NUMSA ON THE NERSA HEARING DISRUPTION IN PORT ELIZABETH
NUMSA 16 January 2013

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) notes the poisonous and malicious statement issued by the National Electricity Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) pertaining to the unfortunate disruption of its public hearing in Port Elizabeth today, 16 January 2013.

As Numsa, we would like to inform all South Africans that we were as surprised as the regulator when members of the public stormed inside the hearing venue in the opulent and leafy suburb of Summerstand in Port Elizabeth. This public disruption of the hearing was never sanctioned by Numsa or by any of its elected leadership.

We fully understand the motives and anger behind the disruption of the hearing, but we don’t agree with the approach as carried by members of the public. The disruption undermines both their grievances and legitimate demands we are putting on the table, for Nersa not to approve Eskom’s application.

We strongly believe that Nersa must consider the views as narrated to them by both union and community leaders to hold these important hearings in areas that are accessible to ordinary communities, so that these hearings do not become aloof talkshops amongst the elites or the privileged class.

We applaud the decisive leadership taken by Numsa and COSATU in restoring order and calm at the hearing. Furthermore, we appeal to members of the public to adhere to the picketing rules, to exercise maximum discipline and allow Nersa to continue with the hearings without any form of disruption or intimidation. Any form of undermines our collective struggle to exert pressure to Nersa not to consider Eskom’s application.

Lastly, Numsa as a disciplined union grounded in the best traditions of the Congress movement will never be part of an agenda that disrupts a democratic process.
Contact: Castro Ngobese, National Spokesperson – 083 627 5197

Protests planned for Nersa hearings
IOL News 14 January 2013

A union and civil society coalition vowed on Monday to protest against Eskom's proposed 16 percent electricity increase outside a public hearing in Cape Town this week.

National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) spokesman Castro Ngobese said they would picket outside the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) on Tuesday morning.

The CTICC is the venue for the first hearing by the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa).

The union feared jobs would be lost and the cost of living increase should Eskom's application to Nersa succeed.

Christelle Terreblanche, speaking on behalf of the One Million Climate Jobs Campaign and other organisations, said they had been given permission to demonstrate outside the convention centre at 1pm on Tuesday.

In attendance would be organisations such as the Energy Governance Initiative-SA, Green Connection and the Right2Know campaign.

"We cannot allow NERSA to grant Eskom’s application without a thorough review of national energy and resource plans," Terreblanche said.

"South Africa is already one of the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gasses and ranks number one in Africa. We have to answer to the world for our debt to present and future generations."

Eskom applied for an average price increase of 16 percent for each year from 2013/2014 to 2017/2018.

Nersa spokeswoman Poppie Mahlangu said hearings would be held in every province until the end of the month, to allow members of the public and other organisations to ask questions.

Numsa secretary Irvin Jim indicated on Sunday that shopstewards would picket at every hearing.
www.iol.co.za


More arrests in farm wage protests
IOL News 16 January 2013

Cape Town - A total of 26 people were arrested overnight in connection with farmworkers' protests for higher wages, Western Cape police said on Wednesday.

Captain Frederick van Wyk said the arrests were made between 6pm on Tuesday and 8am on Wednesday in Villiersdorp, Kraaifontein and Ladysmith.

In Villiersdorp, 18 people were arrested for public violence and would appear in the Caledon Magistrate's Court later on Wednesday.

In the same area, four men were charged with possession of possible stolen goods. They would appear in court on Thursday.

Three men were arrested in Kraaifontein for public violence and would appear in the Blue Downs Magistrate's Court on Thursday.

A man would appear in the Ladysmith Magistrate's Court the same day for malicious damage to property.

At least 180 people had been arrested in connection with the protests since Wednesday last week.

Van Wyk thanked the community for its co-operation and said people could report any criminal activity to the police's emergency number, 10111.

Farmworkers went on strike last year to demand their daily wage be increased from R69 to R150, and that a coherent land reform programme be implemented.

The strike was suspended in December, but resumed on Wednesday last week in various towns in the province.

According to the Congress of SA Trade Unions, a wage deal of R105 a day was brokered with a “significant amount” of farmers in Clanwilliam on Tuesday.

Provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich said this was a model agreement that could be used in other towns to possibly end the strike, which had been violent at times.

He said Cosatu would encourage workers to suspend the strike if Agri-SA acknowledged the Clanwilliam agreement, the space provided for it in law and give an undertaking to ensure no disciplinary action was taken against striking workers.

A deadline of 1pm on Wednesday was given.

Both Agri-SA and provincial entity Agri Wes-kaap said on Wednesday morning they had not been contacted by Cosatu regarding a plan to extend the apparent wage deal.

Agri Wes-Kaap spokeswoman Porschia Adams said that to her knowledge, a wage deal was agreed to by one farmer who owned a number of farms, rather than multiple farmers.

Agri-SA president Johannes Möller later released a statement saying no agricultural wage deal had yet been made in the country.

He said: “An offer made by a single 1/8Clanwilliam 3/8 farmer, who is apparently highly dependent on the services of a large number of temporary workers during peak harvest time, was welcomed by Cosatu and portrayed by them as a collective deal with Clanwilliam farmers which could serve as a trend-setter for wider application.”

He said this offer was apparently not supported or mandated as a collective agreement by other farm leaders and their organisations in the area.

Agri-SA had repeatedly called for individual farmers to negotiate with their workers at farm level, which was apparently taking place.

Ehrenreich was not immediately available to comment.

In a statement, he said a briefing would be held at 4pm “to make a call on the strikers, in the light of recent developments and the attitude of Agri-SA to finding a way forward, that can settle the strike”. - Sapa
www.iol.co.za

Police fire rubber bullets on striking De Doorns farmworkers
Mail & Guardian 14 January 2012

Western Cape police have fired rubber bullets at workers in De Doorns protesting for better wages, says a police spokesperson.

'The protest in De Doorns erupted at around 3am this morning,' said Warrant Officer November Filander. (David Harrison, M&G)

"The protest in De Doorns erupted at around 3am this morning and police intervened and used rubber bullets to disperse the crowd," Warrant Officer November Filander said on Monday.

"People were arrested, but I have no further details on the incident. Police will continue to monitor the situation."

Farmworkers in De Doorns in the Western Cape want their minimum R69 daily wage increased to R150. The strike began on August 27 last year, and was called off on December 4 and resumed on Wednesday.

Since the strike resumed on Wednesday, De Doorns has been the epicentre of violent clashes between protesters and police.

On Thursday, police used a water cannon, fired rubber bullets and stun grenades in an attempt to disperse thousands of strikers who pelted them with stones.

A truck was hijacked and set alight on Saturday morning.

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) offered to intervene in the strike on Saturday saying it had the authority and the skills and experience to mediate a solution.

"We have offered our services – which we are empowered to do in matters of public interest – and trust that the parties will respond positively to our offer," executive director Nerine Kahn said in a statement.

The CCMA said they were in a position to mediate a binding short-term agreement while the parties wait for a sectoral wage determination by the labour department. – Sapa
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Strike disrupts bus service
IOL News 12 January 2013

Pretoria - Commuters and children will wait in vain for municipal buses to get to work and school on Monday.

On Thursday, the Tshwane Metro Council issued a statement informing bus users there would be no service until further notice because of labour action.

This follows a sit-in on Thursday by some of the city’s bus drivers, which turned into a strike yesterday.

The action is the result of a dispute between the city and drivers belonging to the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu).

While the council said it “sincerely apologises to all commuters who will be adversely affected by the strike”, passengers are fed-up.

They have complained that it has been years since the service ran efficiently and last year, Tshwane’s executive mayor, Kgosientso Ramokgopa, admitted there were serious problems with the service.

Schoolchildren are arriving late for school, people are arriving late for work and the disabled, who have been relying on the service, say they have been let down.

“Further negotiations between the city and (Samwu) are taking place to ensure that services are swiftly restored,” said the council.

The council has urged commuters to find alternative transport until the service is restored, but for some alternative transport is fast becoming the only option.

Clare Braun, who works at the Pretoria News and depends on public transport, said she was considering taking a minibus taxi to town.

“On Thursday. someone helped me catch a taxi into town.

“Yesterday, I stood at the side of the road put my finger up and a taxi stopped.

“I asked if he was going to town and he told me to get in,” she said.
Pretoria News
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Progress in talks with farmers: Cosatu
IOL News 11 January 2013

Cape Town - Town-by-town discussions with Western Cape farmers are progressing well, Cosatu in the province said on Friday.

“We hope to get agreement with many of the farmers over the weekend,” Western Cape Congress of SA Trade Unions secretary Tony Ehrenreich told reporters in Worcester, about 34km from De Doorns, where violent protests erupted on Wednesday.

Ehrenreich said discussions were happening between worker unions and some individual farmers, with the assistance of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

“There are good farmers, but there are still bad farmers who don't want to negotiate and raise wages above R69 per day,” he said.

Seasonal workers wanted R150 per day. Ehrenreich said they were willing to compromise to around R110 per day.

“We will continue to call for a boycott of bad farmers and help good farmers to get more market access.”

The individual farmers agreed to a meeting organised by Cape Orchards Company chairman Gerhard de Kock. The company represents 12 farms in the De Doorns Hex River Valley, which together produce approximately three million boxes of table grapes a year.

De Doorns had been the epicentre of violent clashes between protesters and police on Wednesday and Thursday. It was quiet on Friday, with police patrolling the highway, which remained closed to traffic.

Police spokesman Lt-Col Andre Traut said at least 118 people had been arrested on public violence related charges since Wednesday. - Sapa
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De Doorns strikers welcome talks
Chantall Presence (IOL News) January 11 2013

De Doorns, Western Cape - Some striking farmworkers welcomed talks between unions and farm bosses on Friday, following two days of violent protest action.

The individual farmers agreed to a meeting organised by Cape Orchards Company (COC) chairman Gerhard de Kock.

The COC represents 12 farms in the De Doorns Hex River Valley, which together produce approximately three million boxes of table grapes a year.

“We are glad they (farmers) are willing to negotiate,” 29-year old farmworker Johannes Links told Sapa as he stood on the side of the N1 highway in De Doorns on Friday.

The area had been the epicentre of violent clashes between protesters and police on Thursday.

It was quiet on Friday with police patrolling the highway, which remained closed to traffic.

Links said he had worked on farms in the area for the past 16 years.

He rubbished claims by farmers who said they could not afford to meet wage demands of R150 a day.

“They make more and more profit from our work every year... they are not the losers, we lose out,” Links said.

Workers are earning a minimum wage of R69 a day.

“Our parents struggled to make ends meet, we are struggling... now we are trying to make things right to secure our children's future,” said Links.

He said if farmers were not willing to budge, workers would continue the strike until “the grapes rotted”.

It was harvesting season at the vineyards, but very few workers had arrived to pack the grapes.

The faster the farmers gave them a good answer, the faster they would stop rioting, he said.

Police were monitoring the situation in various areas in the Western Cape.

Police spokesman Andre Traut said at least 118 people had been arrested on public violence related charges since Wednesday. - Sapa
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Strike leader condemns ‘criminals’
Murray Williams 11 January 2013

Western Cape - A prominent farm strike leader has damned “criminal elements” for joining the protests and looting stores, as the violence continued on Thursday.

Grabouw witnessed scenes of violence on Thursday as groups of men launched a long series of sniping raids on public roads.

But John Michaels, of the Grabouw Elgin Civic Organisation, blamed this squarely on “criminal elements” who had joined the protesters. He said he “distanced” the protesters from these looters and said the police should act against them.

Michaels also said police had acted “provocatively” against the legitimate industrial action, by ordering “peaceful” demonstrations to break up.

From as early as 6am, police sought to disperse groups which arrived on the Old Cape Road in the Pineview suburb.

After numerous interviews, the Cape Argus established that amid these groups were not only striking workers, but large numbers of unemployed men who have worked as seasonal workers on occasion and others who appeared to be barely out of school.

Together, the men often responded to the police’s demands to disperse by hurling rocks at the police, and open battles then developed.

Dodging the flying rocks, policemen fired rubber bullets and threw “thunder-flash” canisters to drive the rock-throwers back.

Groups of men made numerous attempts to march down to the main road through Grabouw, but were stopped by police.

The next headache for authorities were two fires lit on MTO forestry land, in fynbos on a rocky koppie to the west of the town.

A spotter plane soon arrived, followed by a helicopter armed with a “Bambie bucket”, and a crop-sprayer, which also dumped water on the rocky slopes in a daring display of flying.

As sunset neared, after almost 12 hours of strife, a pall of smoke hung over the town of Grabouw – as a dozen street fires still belched choking black smoke from burning tyres and rubbish into the evening sky.
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Farmer to pay independent wage rate
Daneel Knoetze 11 January 2013

Western Cape - Gerhard de Kock, director of the Cape Orchard Company and the largest farmer in the Hex River Valley, where De Doorns is situated, has agreed to reach a negotiated wage settlement with his workers by the weekend.

He will have discussions with the owners of five out of six of the valley’s largest farms, in an attempt to get them to follow suit.

De Kock made the announcement at a press conference co-hosted by Cosatu and the Building and Agricultural Workers’ Union of South Africa (Bawusa).

Tony Ehrenreich, Cosatu’s provincial secretary, said De Kock’s announcement was a breakthrough.

“This is separate from discussions between the Department of Labour and AgriSA about determining a new minimum wage for the industry. We hope that individual farmers will be able to follow this example and break away from AgriSA’s conservative attitude.”

Those farmers who are willing to engage independently were encouraged to contact the CCMA, which would act as a facilitator in the mediations.

Ehrenreich warned that “bad farmers” who did not embrace this opportunity had “no place in South Africa” and that their exports would be stopped.

No farmworkers were present at the announcement.

De Kock said that entrepreneurs such as himself needed to engage creatively in partnership with government, market players, unions and workers in order to find a solution agreeable to all parties.

“This especially means more support from government for farmers so that they have the means to increase wages,” said De Kock.

Hours earlier, the N1 outside De Doorns was once again turned into a war zone as police fired rubber bullets for hours to keep advancing crowds of protesters at bay.
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De Doorns’ darkest day
Daneel Knoetze 10 January 2013

Western Cape - Journalists were attacked, vehicles torched and the N1 outside De Doorns was closed by a group of 7 000 striking farmworkers on Wednesday while police retaliated with rubber bullets.

It will go down as the most violent day of strikes in De Doorns since November 5, when vineyards were burned and shops looted in the Boland town.

Shortly after 10am, Nosey Pieterse, general secretary of the Building and Allied Workers Union of SA (Bawusa), lead a crowd of around 3 000 people from Stofland informal settlement onto the N1 outside De Doorns.

At that time the road had already been closed due to clashes between police and strikers.

The crowd on the N1 swelled to an estimated 7 000 people. Veld fires were lit along the way and buildings were damaged.

Police drew the line when strikers started moving down the main road leading into De Doorns.

They pushed the crowd back with armoured vehicles and foot patrols firing rubber bullets at will.

The injured were taken to De Doorns local clinic and some were transferred to a hospital in Worcester.

Strikers responded to the shooting by pelting police with stones. A police captain was injured in the violence.

During one of these exchanges, a car owned by Independent Newspapers was caught in the crossfire. The two occupants were journalists with the Cape Times – Xolani Koyana and intern Aw Cheng Wei.

An eyewitness to the attack, who asked not to be named, said the vehicle was obstructing strikers from reaching a police caspir – which they apparently intended to torch.

“It was unbelievably scary and chaotic. That sight is still haunting me – people just lost control. I have never seen anything like it,” she said.

Thousands of people marched on the N1 during the farms protest. Police used gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets to try to control the crowds.

The two reporters inside were forced to huddle on the floor of the vehicle while protesters smashed the windows and jumped on the roof.

They eventually escaped and, with the assistance of ANC ward councillor Pat Marran, were whisked to safety. At the house of Andries Kraukamp, a local pastor, they were treated for minor injuries and lacerations from the broken glass.

When the Cape Argus interviewed them, they were clearly still in shock.

“We are just so thankful to the people that helped us escape. Everything happened so quickly, in a matter of split seconds the situation was out of control,” said Koyana.

A petrol bomb, which was apparently intended for the police caspir, was thrown into the car after it was overturned.

Cape Argus photographer Henk Kruger was hit in the leg by a rubber bullet fired by police.

During an emergency address to strikers at the nearby Stofland sports field, Pieterse condemned the attack.

“The journalists are our messengers and allies. How can we get the message of the exploitation, the attacks by police and the suffering of farmworkers out to the world if we attack the very people who make this possible?” he said.

He simultaneously turned on police, saying that they were the real “enemy” and blaming them for “all of the violence that had taken place”.

This message was echoed by the Food and Allied Workers Union’s (Fawu) representative Sandile Keni.

Asked about these accusations, police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Andre Traut said that “acts of violence associated with the farmworkers’ strike action in De Doorns and other areas have necessitated SAPS to take appropriate action”.

He said that complaints regarding police actions can be reported to the station commander of the police station where the incident occurred, or directed to Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) for an independent investigation.

Traut added that a total of 44 people had been arrested on charges of intimidation and public violence in the areas of Grabouw, De Doorns and Somerset West.

Meanwhile, strikers remained firm on their demand for a “living wage” of R150 a day. They related anecdotes about the difficult conditions under which they work and the impossibility of living with “decency and providing for our children with the dismal wages which we earn”.

This third round of strikes comes at a time when many farmers are preparing to harvest their annual crops of fruit and grapes. This is the most labour-intensive time in Western Cape’s agricultural sector.

“This has gone completely too far; someone or something has got to give. We’re now seriously beginning to lose money, and I don’t think that the general public has an idea of how this will affect the industry, the availability of employment for workers next season and the economy of the region as a whole,” said Jacques Beukes, owner of Modderdrift table grape farm outside De Doorns.

Beukes admitted that the intensity of Wednesday’s strike took employers in the region by surprise.

“These are the three months that the farms make all the money to sustain themselves over the coming year. Many farmers cannot afford to pay what is being asked of us. We are standing at a cliff with a gun to our heads, either we get shot or we jump to our dooms,” he said.

The strikes are set to continue on Thursday.
daneel.knoetze@inl.co.za
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Guard shoots ANC boss
Jason Felix and Aziz Hartley (IOL News) 11 January 2013

Western Cape - A private security guard shot a senior ANC official in the face on Thursday in the second day of violence during farm workers strikes in the Boland.

ANC Boland regional chairman Pat Marran was shot near De Doorns when he and a friend were confronted by three security guards outside the suburb of Sunnyside Orchard.

“He lowered his shotgun, took out a handgun and aimed it at my face. I starred down the barrel of a gun. He shot me. After I was shot they kicked me as a lay on on the ground,” Marran said on Thursday night.

Marran and his friend had been on their way to the Sunnyside Orchard residential area when three guards confronted them.

“There was argument and one of them said ‘Shoot him, shoot him’. I asked this guard: ‘Do you really want to shoot me?’ That was when he took out his handgun,” Marran said.

He was treated at Worcester Hospital and discharged.

Marran was the man who rescued Cape Times reporter Xolani Koyana and visiting journalism student Aw Cheng Wei from a mob that attacked them in De Doorns on Wednesday and set their car alight.

This incident on Thursday came amid renewed violence in the Boland when fields were set alight, property was damaged and there were clashes between police and farmworkers protesting for higher wages.

De Doorns and Wolseley were the worst-affected areas.

On Thursday morning, protesters gathered on the sports field in De Doorns adjacent to the N1. There was a tense stand-off after protesters sang struggle songs and chanted slurs at police.

About midday police used rubber bullets to disperse the crowd of about 800 people, who then ran to the Stofland informal settlement, setting tyres and tree stumps alight along their way. Veld fires were started next to the N1 by protesters.

Police fired rubber bullets, stun grenades and used a water canon to disperse the crowd, which had increased to more than 4 000 by 3pm.

Protesters, who claimed they were farmworkers, pelted police and Nyalas with stones. They ran in between houses to hide in bushes and in residents’ homes.

The violence continued with protesters throwing stones at photographers and reporters. Police managed to clear the N1 of protesters by 4pm, after which they moved to the Stofland informal settlement and fired rubber bullets at random.

The road was cleared of debris and stones, but remained closed.

In Wolseley, about 800 protesters, who also claimed to be farmworkers, were stopped by police from entering the town centre.

At about 11am, a police Nyala blocked the Pine Valley Bridge on the road that links the area with the town centre.

Groups of about 50 youths ran into Pine Valley graveyard, throwing stones at police. They shouted slurs at photographers and threatened to target them.

An hour after the protest started the police retreated. A police Tactical Response Team was brought in to help disperse the crowd.

Protesters regrouped by 1pm and just 30 minutes later they furiously ran back at police, throwing stones and using zinc sheets to shield themselves against the rubber bullets.

Police spokesman André Traut said protests were reported in Grabouw, De Doorns, Ceres, Barrydale, Bonnievale, Rawsonville and Villiersdorp. In Grabouw a man was shot and taken to hospital when police arrested three people looting a shop.

More than 30 people were arrested on Thursday, compared with the 63 people held on Wednesday for public violence.

Agriculture MEC Gerrit van Rensberg’s spokesman, Wouter Kriel, said: “We see levels of violence as a barometer of the levels of frustration of workers. We are urging everyone to refrain from violence.”

ANC provincial chairman Marius Fransman called for an immediate end to the violence.

He urged police to probe the deployment of people to protect farms. “We must start looking at whether this is an issue of mercenaries being sent.”
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Some farmers agree to talks
IOL News 10 January 2013

Worcester - Some farmers on Thursday agreed to wage negotiations with unions, following violent strikes in parts of the Western Cape.

“These discussions are separate to the engagements we've been having with Agri-SA,” Congress of SA Trade Unions Western Cape secretary Tony Ehrenreich told reporters in Worcester.

“What we are now talking here is a deal with the table grape (farmers) and some related groups.”

Cape Orchards group chairman Gerhard de Kock said he had invited 28 farmers to Friday's meeting.

“I believe that the groups should come forward, as they've indicated to me that they are prepared to talk about a settlement deal.”

Local union leaders were also at the briefing.

De Kock represented 12 farms in the Hex River Valley in De Doorns, the centre of violent clashes between police and striking seasonal farmworkers.

Unions, De Kock, and several other farmers, were expected to attend the meeting.

On Thursday police used a water cannon, fired rubber bullets and stun grenades in an attempt to disperse thousands of strikers who pelted them with stones. The strike by seasonal workers to have their R69 daily wage increased to R150 resumed on Wednesday.

The Bawsi Agricultural Workers' Union of SA's general secretary Nosey Pieterse said close to 6000 workers were on strike in De Doorns. Protests were also taking place in Grabouw and Wolseley.

The N1 highway at De Doorns was still closed to traffic on Thursday.

Agence France Presse reported that 18 people were arrested on Thursday, bringing the total to 62 this week. - Sapa
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Cops use water cannon in De Doorns
Chantall Presence 11 January 2013

De Doorns, Western Cape - Police used a water cannon to disperse striking farmworkers gathered on the N1 highway in De Doorns, in the Western Cape, on Thursday.

The strikers were blocking the highway with two tractors, and moved towards the water cannon, which was sandwiched between two police armoured vehicles.

They abandoned the tractors when police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at them.

Smoke, caused by small fires, billowed from several points along the N1.

It was not immediately clear who started the fires, but a number of people at the scene said they were caused by police stun grenades.

Several police officers were stationed outside one farm, where strikers allegedly broke a gate.

Earlier, armoured vehicles were deployed to the highway, and scores of riot police tried to defuse the situation.

The highway has been closed to traffic since the strike, which was suspended in December, resumed on Wednesday.

On Thursday morning, thousands of protesting workers taunted the police, pelting them with rocks. Police fired rubber bullets in retaliation.

The Bawsi Agricultural Workers' Union of SA (Bawusa) claimed nine people had been injured by rubber bullets since Wednesday.

“Pat Marran, the ANC Boland chairman, was taken to hospital after being shot by private security,” said Bawusa general secretary Nosey Pieterse.

Pieterse said close to 6000 workers were on strike in De Doorns. Protests were also taking place in Grabouw and Wolseley.

On Wednesday, Lt-Col Andre Traut said 44 people had been arrested.

Workers went on strike last year, demanding an increase in their daily wages from R69 to R150, and the implementation of a “coherent” land reform programme.

At least two people were killed in protests between August 27 and December 4. Strikers also set fire to several farms.

The strike was suspended following an undertaking that negotiations would continue between workers' representatives and individual farmers, but this process proved unsuccessful. - Sapa
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Farmworker strike volatile
Chantall Presence 10 January 2013

The situation remained volatile in De Doorns, Western Cape where clashes between police and striking farmworkers continued on Thursday.

Several nyalas had been deployed to the N1 highway at De Doorns, with scores of riot police trying to defuse the situation.

The highway was closed to traffic since the strike resumed on Wednesday.

Thousands of protesting workers taunted the police, pelting them with rocks.

Police fired rubber bullets in retaliation.

The Bawsi Agricultural Workers' Union of SA (Bawusa) claimed nine people had been injured by rubber bullets since Wednesday.

“Pat Marran, the ANC Boland chairman, was taken to hospital after being shot by private security,” said Bawusa general secretary Nosey Pieterse.

Pieterse said close to 6000 workers were on strike in De Doorns. Protests were also taking place in Grabouw and Wolseley.

On Wednesday, Lt-Col Andre Traut said 44 people had been arrested.

Workers went on strike last year, demanding that their daily wages be increased from R69 to R150, and a coherent land reform programme.

At least two people were killed in protests between August 27 and December 4.

The strike was suspended following an undertaking that negotiations would continue between workers' representatives and individual farmers, but this process proved unsuccessful. - Sapa
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Patchy support for farmworker strike
Daneel Knoetze and Murray Williams 9 January 2013

Strike action in the Western Cape's agricultural sector received sporadic support on Wednesday.

Grabouw, Wolseley and Barrydale were the only areas where strikers disrupted transport routes, sources on the ground reported.

Despite threats this week that the N1 would be blocked, the strike in De Doorns was a peaceful stayaway from work early today.

“There is a heavy police presence from Paarl and other towns. People are wary of being arrested if they try to block the road,” said farmworker Magrieta Prins.

Police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Andre Traut said 13 people in the Ashton area had been arrested on charges of intimidation related to the farmworkers strike.

Seven people in Tulbagh had been arrested on the same charges.

Most seasonal and permanent workers were at work in Ceres and the Koue Bokkeveld area, it was reported.

In Grabouw, strikers briefly blockaded the N2, forcing motorists to detour through the town.

A burning tyre barricade was also erected on a road into the town.

Police on the scene said the obstructions were soon removed.

In the suburb of Pineview, several hundred people gathered at a bus depot, but without incidents.

The protest appeared to fizzle out when it started raining at around 10am.

In Barrydale, police and strikers clashed as the road into Smitsville township was blockaded with burning tyres.

One person was arrested for public violence, said Henry Michaels, an activist of the Mawubuye Land Rights Movement.

By mid-morning the road was still blocked and Michaels said that strikers intended to move onto the R62 through Barrydale by this afternoon.

“Our rallying call for today is 'no one in and no one out'. We do not want the farmers to be able to enter the township to pick up scab labourers. This strike will continue until there is an acceptable offer for a living wage. We want the farmers to come to us directly and to address this issue. They must not hide behind police,” said Michaels.

A similar situation unfolded in Wolseley where strikers turned away trucks and buses to stop non-striking farmworkers from going to work.

A road into a nearby township had also been blocked.

Mercia Andrews, another member of the Mawubuye Land Rights Movement, said permanent workers went to work in the Ashton/Robertson area, while seasonal workers stayed away.

Numerous seasonal workers were returning to work by mid-morning, she said.

Meanwhile, disagreements between leaders and De Doorns members of the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) have been resolved during a meeting between members and Sandile Keni, a Fawu representative from Robertson.

De Doorns members who intended to defy Fawu and Cosatu's call to strike in protest against the unions' lack of consultation with farmworkers in the Hex Valley agreed to support the strike.

Keni agreed that Fawu shop stewards from De Doorns would be present at negotiations with the Department of Labour and Agri Wes-Cape in Cape Town.
Cape Argus
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N1 remains closed in farm protest
IOL News 9 January 2013

The N1 highway at De Doorns remained closed to traffic on Wednesday afternoon amid continued clashes between farmworkers and the police.

Protesters blocked the road with rocks and threw stones at the police, who retaliated by firing rubber bullets.

The protest forms part of the first day of renewed strike action by workers in demand of a wage of R150 a day. A protester said she had no alternative but to strike, because she could not survive on R60 a day.

Lt-Col Andre Traut said at least 50 people were arrested across the Western Cape on Wednesday on public violence-related charges.

Porchia Adams, a spokeswoman for farmers' group Agri Wes-Cape, said 80 percent of permanently employed farm workers in the fruit-growing area had turned up for work on Wednesday.

She said most of those who did not, did not live on the farms. She claimed they had been coerced into staying away from work.

"They said they had been threatened that their houses would be burnt down if they went to work so it was not worth the risk for them."

Adams said that although the strike came at the worst time for fruit-growers, the group had understanding for "people being unhappy".

"It is peak season, so we really cannot afford it. We hope this will be resolved soon." - Sapa
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Dairy Belle strike at Bloemhof
Fawu 11 January 2013

The Congress of South African Trade Union in the NW is now preparing to intervene in the strike of DairyBelle workers who have been on strike since 3 December 2012 due to the negotiation deadlock.

FAWU has been leading the strike and has now requested the federation to intervene, as the employer is playing mucky tricks to dismiss workers. We are now taking over the strike from next week Tuesday 15 January 2013.

Workers are demanded a R1200 increase. They are now on R800 and their employer is offering R266 per month, while workers are still earning nothing. The workers are demanding shorter hours of work, and a provident fund. The employer wants to withdraw all the benefits that workers have had for so many years. The conditions of workers have been very bad with the employer treating them like pigs.

The unions have tried to make a CCMA intervention, but the employer has failed to respond and the workers are now demanding that the federation that they belong too to intervene, as the strike is now beginning to be violent. Some workers were arrested; some were assaulted; cars were stoned as the police were shooting at the striking workers.

We are now demanding that both the Department of Labour, our provincial and national governments to intervene and make sure that the arrogance of the employer is changed to achieve a solution to resolving the dispute.

As we are mobilizing our members to intensify the strike, which will be linked with solidarity support of the W Cape farm workers’ demands affecting all farm workers in the country. We call our government to intervene as a matter of urgency.

The strikers are now going to the second month with no solutions. What they are getting from the employer is arrogance and an attitude of wanting to dismiss workers.

We call on the employer to respond positively to the workers’ demands by making a better offer, and withdrawing its attitude of taking all the benefits that workers had for so many years, by Monday 14 January 2013 at the close of business. Failure to do that it will mean that the strike will be intensified by COSATU with support of the communities in the region of DR Ruth Momphati.

Our members are ready to take up solidarity action, as part of the program of demanding R150 per day and improving the conditions of farm workers in the NW.

For more information feel free to call COSATU NW Provincial Secretary at [0823044055]


At least 50 Western Cape farm protesters arrested
Mail & Guardian 9 January 2013

At least 50 people have been detained when the renewed farmworkers' strike for better wages in the Western Cape turned violent.

The N1 was closed outside De Doorns, when renewed farmworkers' strike in the Western Cape turned violent.

Lieutenant Colonel André Traut said riot police had been deployed to contain the situation in the Boland farming town of De Doorns.

"We are taking action, and arrests are being effected," Traut said, adding that "in the region of 50" people had been detained since the protests began early on Wednesday.

Protesters stoned cars, prompting the police to close roads. The N1 was closed outside De Doorns, forcing motorists to use alternative routes.

Farmworkers said they would not return to the vineyards on Wednesday afternoon as the situation had become too volatile.

De Doorns was also at flashpoint two months ago when Boland farmworkers went on strike over low pay and poor working conditions.

This week hopes were dashed that talks organised by the department of labour would yield an agreement and avert another round of protests. – Sapa
mg.co.za/article


Cops fire rubber bullets at farm strikers
IOL News 9 January 2013

Western Cape - Police fired rubber bullets to disperse hundreds of striking farm workers in South Africa's prime grape-growing region on Wednesday after a protest for higher wages turned violent.

Scores of police clad in riot gear fired rubber bullets at the strikers, who hurled stones from behind barricades of burning tyres, according to a Reuters reporter on the scene in De Doorns.

The strike in the Western Cape, also home to the country’s multi-billion dollar wine industry, restarted on Wednesday after being suspended in December, when warehouses were set on fire and at least two workers died in clashes with police.

The farm workers, many of them seasonal workers employed to pick and pack fruit, want their minimum daily wage of R69 more than doubled to R150. - Reuters
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Death threats, shootings threaten Harmony Gold mine's future
IOL News 7 January 2013

Harmony Gold's Kusasalethu mine could be shut permanently, ending about 6 000 jobs, after managers received death threats and police were shot at.

Harmony Gold says it might close its Kusasalethu mine for good after death threats were levelled at its management. (Gallo)

South Africa's third-largest gold producer said last week it would delay the post-holiday restart of the mine 65km west of Johannesburg as it was undertaking a review of its financial and operational status.

Kusasalethu's woes mark a rocky start to 2013 for South Africa's mining industry, after a year in which it was rattled by violent wildcat strikes that lead to the death of over 50 miners and severely damaged the country's investment image.

Harmony's problems may prove a harbinger for the platinum sector as Anglo American finalises a review expected this month of its unit Anglo American Platinum, the world's top producer of the precious metal, which may lead to shaft closures.

"There is an extremely high risk something could go wrong at Kusasalethu in its current state. We are drawing a line in the sand," Harmony chief executive Graham Briggs told a briefing on Monday. He said managers had received death threats and shots had been fired at police at the mine.

The company said it had launched a legal process that could result in the mine being placed on "care and maintenance", meaning production would cease but its infrastructure would be kept in working order by a small number of staff.

This would lead to lay-offs that could further stoke social tensions and have a huge impact on the bottom line of Harmony at a time when it needs cash to fund its huge Wafi-Golpu project in Papua New Guinea, analysts say.

"This would be a blow to Harmony: Kusasalethu produced around 18% of Harmony's production profit in the September quarter. If they do put it on care and maintenance it will certainly disrupt their cash flow regarding Wafi-Golpu," said David Davis, mining investment analyst at SBG Securities.

Shares down
Harmony shares fell almost 3% in morning trade, underperforming the Johannesburg bourse's All-share index, which was down 0.1%.

Briggs said placing the mine under care and maintenance would be a short-term option but shareholders would not want to fund an operation for long that was not producing.

"In the longer term shareholders are likely to ask about why we keep spending money on care and maintenance," he said.

Briggs said about 6 000 workers could be affected and the costs of mothballing the mine and laying workers off could be 400 million rand.

Kusasalethu is one of a handful of South African gold mines where production was actually seen rising. The country's bullion industry has been in steep decline as the ore gets deeper and more costly to get at and grades become poorer.

Briggs said 62% of Kusasalethu's workforce now belonged to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), a militant union whose turf war for members with the National Union of Mineworkers has been at the root of much of the violence in the mining sector.

A brief underground sit-in was staged at Kusasalethu just before Christmas, when 1 700 workers refused to surface in protest against the suspension of colleagues who had taken part in an illegal strike.

The suspensions also sparked violence on December 20 when several miners were injured by police who fired rubber bullets to disperse a demonstration. In November, two miners were killed in clashes between the rival unions.

Union-linked violence last year led to the closure of the Everest mine run by Aquarius Platinum. – Reuters
mg.co.za


Farmworkers plan more action
Daneel Knoetze (IOL News) 2 January 2013

Western Cape - Members of the Farmworkers Coalition, an affiliation of unions, NGOs and workers’ committees, predict more strike action.

The vulnerability of agriculture in January, a busy period in the fruit and wine industry, will be exploited, said the coalition’s Mercia Andrews.

Late last year, workers protesting against poor pay and ill treatment resulted in millions of rands worth of damage to farm owners’ property and brought the agricultural sector to a standstill.

But the coalition maintains that conditions, wages and treatment of farmworkers in the wake of the mass strikes have not improved.

Ryno Filander, a worker and leader of the committee on Wonderfontein farm outside Robertson, says that on some farms workers, who participated in the strikes, had been isolated and discriminated against.

“It was very painful for me to see some of the workers receive Pick n Pay vouchers for Christmas and for others (those who are known to have participated in the strike) to be overlooked.

“Such experiences make the people very frustrated. These are the sort of things that lead to the strike in the first place. In the new year, we have to organise and – if needs be – strike again to bring attention to our conditions. Because nothing has changed.”

Filander’s employer, Paul Marais, admitted to the Cape Argus that Christmas bonuses had been withheld from some workers who had participated in the strike.

“They brought business to a standstill and the farm suffered significant financial losses as a result.”

Marais said it did not make sense to reward people for going on strike.

In De Doorns, community activist Owen Maromo said jobs were shed on many farms in the table-grape-growing valley since December.

Maromo lost his job as a farm worker for facilitating striking workers in September.

“On some farms they are paying more (R90 a day), but this has come only after some of the workforce were dismissed. It means that the remaining workers have to work harder for that little extra money.”

Andrews, who is also the director of the Mawubuye Land Rights Forum said the coalition was working on an urban-rural awareness campaign that would force people in towns and cities to remain sensitive to the ongoing plight of farmworkers in the province.

“During the holiday season, we want people to understand that the food they enjoy with their families is produced by people who are suffering. They don’t enjoy the same privileges, and still live in dire conditions.”

Cosatu called off the farm workers’ strike on December 4, an announcement which was widely criticised by farmworkers whom the Cape Argus interviewed.

Their main concern was not whether calling off the strike was appropriate or not. Many farmworkers took exception to Cosatu’s lack of communication and consultation with workers in making such a decision.

Andrews said strengthening workers’ committees – like the self-organisation of leadership among workers – would be a priority in the new year.

She said many workers were not unionised or organised into representative structures – a stumbling block to the efficacy of collective bargaining.

Another objective for the new year would be to set up a system, modelled on the Treatment Action Campaign’s toll-free line, to monitor the roll-out of antiretroviral drugs in the public-health sector.

“We envisage a number that farm workers can call to report illegal evictions, labour abuses and other complaints. This way we will have reliable statistics to present to commercial agriculture.” - Cape Argus
www.iol.co.za


Rampage as foreigners demand money
Bongani Hans 21 December 2012

Durban - Bands of homeless Tanzanians went on the rampage in Albert Park in Durban on Thursday, attacking compatriots they accused of not financially supporting them.

The attackers stabbed five people and a six-year-old boy’s leg was broken as Tanzanians stampeded to get away.

A flat and spaza shop were set alight and a number of cars were damaged.

One man was thought to have died after being stabbed in the chest. Others were hacked with pangas.

Late yesterday taxis took the injured to hospital as ambulances were slow to arrive.

The Albert Park area is home to thousands of foreigners from across Africa.

Tanzanian Ramadhani Juma explained that those with jobs had, until recently, been giving some of their wages to their fellow unemployed countrymen in a gesture of brotherhood.

But yesterday the employed Tanzanians said they had had enough. This is what ignited the violence.

Yannick Ponda, also from Tanzania, said they had rented a commune on the South Coast for their unemployed “brothers”, but that they had moved to be closer to the city.

Now many were living rough along the railway line near the Berea station, but still demanding money from their countrymen.

Ponda said: “These people are here in South Africa not willing to work, but are surviving by committing crime and selling drugs to young South Africans. We don’t want anything more to do with them.”

Last night the community held a meeting to discuss marching to the local police station to ask for a 24-hour police presence in the area and the removal of the homeless from the railway line.

Councillor Willie Zenzile appealed to the community not to resort to violence.

A number of people were arrested.

Police spokesman Thulani Zwane said they were picked up because they were illegal immigrants.

No one was arrested for public violence. - The Mercury
www.iol.co.za


Mangaung: 'Forces of Change' delegates claim police brutality
Greg Marinovich 20 December 2012 09:56

A group of ANC North West delegates have claimed they were detained and beaten by police, and that their accommodation was searched without a warrant.

Delegates detained in Wednesday's raid claim it was conducted by regular police officers accompanied by men in camouflage and wearing balaclavas. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)
Special FocusMangaung 2012: A special report Follow the Mail & Guardian's coverage of the ANC's elective conference in Mangaung.

View Report Our CoverageANC and Cosatu square off at MangaungMangaung Maskandi: It's the end of the world as we know itJustice Malala: How Motlanthe lost Mangaung Mangaung: Unity calls and purge fears after Zuma landslideMangaung 'bomb' part of Zuma assassination plot These delegates are aligned with the 'Forces of Change' faction of the ANC and were denied accreditation at the beginning of the ANC's elective conference in Mangaung.

According to the group, police arrived at their house in Bloemfontein on Wednesday afternoon. Police were allowed onto the property, yet proceeded to kick down the door to the house and search it. Police claimed to be looking for "weapons and heavy weapons", but found nothing.

In the course of the raid, the people in the house were told by police to strip off their shirts and were then taken outside and forced to lie on the ground, where their hands were bound behind their backs with cable ties. One person, too afraid to allow NewsFire to use his name, claims that he was kicked in the mouth by police.

NewsFire saw at least two people at the Central police station in Bloemfontein, attempting to lay charges.

A resident at the delegates' house said that this raid followed a raid on Monday in which police without a warrant wanted to search the house and cars for weapons, which the delegates allowed. Nothing was found.

Volksblad, a Bloemfontein newspaper, reported on the Monday raid earlier in the week, saying that a group of ANC delegates were targeted by heavily armed police looking for weapons.

Delegates detained in Wednesday's raid told NewsFire that the raid was conducted by regular South African Police Service (SAPS) officers accompanied by men in camouflage uniform and wearing balaclavas.

Intimidation
The only police unit known to wear camouflage uniform is the Strategic Task Force, an elite unit of less than a hundred members countrywide, who undergo rigorous training akin to the military reconnaissance unit.

The delegates from the North West are aligned with the 'Forces of Change' faction of the ANC who are opposed to President Jacob Zuma's second term as ANC president, and believe they are being persecuted for supporting Zuma's opponent Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

The ANC in the North West is split between pro- and anti-Zuma factions. The faction supporting Zuma is led by Supra Mahumapelo, the provincial chairperson. The faction against Zuma is led by Kabelo Mataboge, the provincial secretary who survived an attempted assassination a few weeks ago.

Mataboge, representing 700 disgruntled North West ANC members, led an unsuccessful legal challenge to obtain an interdict preventing provincial delegates from attending the national conference in Mangaung, on the basis that the nomination processes had been unlawful.

During the North West provincial delegate nomination process, Mataboge claims that he was locked in a room to prevent his participation. Last week, he was suspended from the ANC and on Sunday evicted from the national conference venue in Mangaung.

The grounds for his suspension remain unclear, but he believes it was motivated by his vocal support of Zuma's opponent Kgalema Motlanthe as well as his high-profile involvement in the legal challenge.

Police were approached for comment, but had not responded by the time of publication.
mg.co.za


Five injured in clash at Harmony mine in Carletonville
Yahoo News 20 December 2012

FIVE mine workers were injured in a clash with security guards at Harmony Gold’s Kusasalethu mine in Carletonville and the shaft had been closed, the company said on Thursday.

"There was indeed violent behaviour and damage to mine structure this morning," spokeswoman Henrika Basterfield said.

She said 578 employees, including contractors, were suspended on Thursday for taking part in an unprotected strike last week.

On Thursday, workers clashed with security guards. Rubber bullets were fired and five people were injured.

The mine would close a day earlier for the festive season.

"At the moment we are evacuating the shaft. We are closing."

Harmony’s chief operating officer Tom Smith said On Thursday that violence would not be tolerated at the mine.

"To ensure the safety of our employees it has become imperative to close the shaft until the labour issues have been resolved," he said.

Late last month two workers were killed and a third injured during violence believed to be the result of rivalry between the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

Management, the recognised unions and Amcu had been in talks about ending conflict at the mine since workers ended an unprotected strike on October 25.
za.news.yahoo.com

Police disperse protesters at S.Africa Harmony Gold mine
Yahoo News 20 December 2012

South African police firing rubber bullets dispersed protesting workers at a mine run by Harmony Gold west of Johannesburg on Thursday, in the latest flare-up of labour unrest in the troubled mining sector.

Company spokeswoman Henrika Basterfield said the protest broke out at Harmony's Kusasalethu mine after close to 600 employees who took part in an illegal strike on December 15 were suspended.

"Mine security and police are on the scene to control the crowd," she said, adding that five people were injured.

A wave of wildcat strikes swept South Africa's gold and platinum mining industries this year. Over 50 people were killed in this labour violence which hit South Africa's reputation as an investment destination and led to credit downgrades.

The last outbreak of mines violence occurred about four weeks ago at Kusasalethu when two miners were killed in clashes between the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the smaller Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU).

Their turf war for members has been at the root of much of the conflict at the mineshafts this year, although miners have also complained of insufficient wages and poor conditions.

Thursday's protest occurred as the ruling African National Congress (ANC) wound up a national leadership conference that backed the idea of a windfall tax on the profits of mining companies which are already struggling with the worker unrest and mounting costs.

Harmony said the Kusasalethu mine near Carletonville, about 65 kms (40 miles) west of Johannesburg, was closing on Thursday for the Christmas holidays, a day earlier than scheduled.

The ANC conference re-elected President Jacob Zuma as its leader and appointed as his deputy millionaire businessman Cyril Ramaphosa, a former mineworkers' leader who is now South Africa's second richest black business executive.

The party hopes that bringing in a high-profile figure like Ramaphosa into the top party leadership can help to both reassure investors, and also reach out to unions which form part of the ruling ANC-led alliance.
za.news.yahoo.com


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