Violence erupts in W. Cape farming town

Western Cape MEC Anton Bredell says chaos has erupted as part of the ongoing farm workers’ strike.

Protesting farm workers march through the De Doorns town centre on 6 November 2012. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Chaos has erupted in the Witzenberg region as part of the ongoing farm workers' strike, Western Cape Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning Anton Bredell said on Wednesday.

The strike started last week, when farm workers in De Doorns downed tools, demanding they be paid R150 per day, which is double the amount they are currently earning.

Protesters have apparently gone on the rampage in Wolseley, looting shops and storage facilities.

Gunfire has also been heard there.

Yesterday, there was a violent protest in nearby Ceres, where police say a satellite station was torched.

Police spokesperson Libby Swarts said three police vehicles and a farmer's private car were overturned and set alight by protesters.

There have also been reports that vineyards have been set alight in Porterville, in the Berg River region, and Prince Albert.

Traffic officials say several roads have been closed as a result of protests. Those include the R321 and the R43 into Villiersdorp, as well as the R60 into Robertson and the R62 between Robertson and Ashton.

Rumours have been doing the rounds that protesters are being bused-in to cause mayhem in various farming communities.

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille posted a tweet saying she believes the protests are politically motivated and demonstrators are being bused in to wreak havoc in the affected areas.

She is expected to hold a briefing on the strike today.


Meanwhile, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson is expected to meet with President Jacob Zuma today, to get his support for higher wages for farm workers across the province.

The Presidency says it is aware of the proposed meeting, but will not comment as it is an internal matter.

Yesterday, Joemat-Pettersson told strikers she would also meet with relevant ministers today.

"We will meet with all ministers - to decide and legalise a living wage for you. The most important part is: I will speak to the president on your behalf.

"The president has seen you, he has seen your fight and he has listened to you."