WC records 179 violent protests

Western Cape police expressed concern over the large number of violent protests in the province.

Police keep an eye on farmworkers who protest in Wolseley on 9 January 2013. Picture: Regan Thaw/EWN

CAPE TOWN - A total of 179 violent strikes and protests have occurred in the Western Cape in the past year, provincial police bosses revealed on Thursday.

Officials briefed the media in crowd control, specifically looking at the recent farmworkers strike that left three people dead.

Western Cape Acting Police Commissioner Peter Jacobs said water cannons, armoured vehicles, stun grenades and rubber rounds were just some of the weapons used to disperse workers involved in the two-month long farmworkers strike.

He said more than 200 people were arrested in connection with January's violent protests.

At the same time, Jacobs said at least 32 police officers were injured and 21 civilians were hurt.

"SAPS vehicles were damaged."

He said police also received information of damage on private property, but said officials cannot comment on the issue at this stage.

Jacobs added while the farmworkers strike has been technically called off, their officers are still deployed in high-risk areas.

Angry workers were demanding a salary of R150 a day.

Several vineyards were also destroyed during the strike.

VIOLENT PROTESTS IN SA

Protest action has been marred by violence throughout the country in recent months.

Earlier in January, municipal property and shops were looted during protest action in Sasolburg, Free State.

Locals were voicing their anger over the proposed merger of the Matsimaholo and Ngwathe municipalities.

Four people were killed during running battles with police.

Co-operative Governance and Public Affairs Minister Richard Baloyi temporally halted the merger, but the Municipal Demarcation Board said only it has the power to stop the merger.

On Wednesday, board members met with locals to discuss the issue.

Board chairperson Landiwe Mahlangu said they will look into the financial benefits, visit affected areas and make their decision known by November.

The proposed merger would only take effect in 2016.

In 2012, President Jacob Zuma condemned violent protests, saying they have no place in a democratic country.

He urged the public to voice their grievances within the confines of the law.