Police ready for farmworkers strike violence

WC police say they have enough capacity to deal with flare-ups of strike violence.

A small boy walks among the rubble strewn across the N1 highway at De Doorns on 9 January 2013. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Western Cape Deputy Police Commissioner Peter Jacobs on Thursday said they had enough capacity to deal with flare-ups of violence, as farmworkers in the province continue to strike.

Police monitored hot spots in De Doorns, Wolseley and Grabouw.

Labourers downed tools following unsuccessful farm level negotiations in December.

They are demanding a R150 daily wage.

Protesters started gathering in affected farm towns early on Thursday morning.

Deputy provincial commissioner Peter Jacobs said police had a strategy to deal with any flare-ups of violence.

"We're working from the basis that it could escalate. So our capacity is there."

He said they would handle conflict using a "systematic escalation model".

In De Doorns yesterday, a bulldozer was torched and a journalist's car was set alight.

Reporter Xolani Koyana said he feared for his life.

"They started jumping on top of the car and I saw two people banging on the car. I seriously thought I was going to die."

Meanwhile in Grabouw, labourers blocked the N2 Highway, stoned cars and looted a shopping centre in Pineview on Wednesday.

Police have confirmed sporadic incidents of violence overnight in Grabouw and Stofland, but said calm had since been restored.

Fifty people were arrested for public violence across the province.

Jacobs said, "The areas are now stable. We closed off the main part of the N1 in the evening to make sure the public were not injured."