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Numsa strike violence escalates

Incidents of intimidation and vandalism have been reported in Benoni and Booysens.

FILE: Numsa members in Cape Town take part in a march marking the start of a national strike on 1 July 2014. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Eyewitness News understands more than 100 factories on the East Rand have been forced to close their doors amid growing fears that they will be targeted by striking workers.

Sporadic incidents of intimidation and vandalism have been reported in Benoni as well as Booysens in Southern Johannesburg.

One woman from Boksburg says she saw a man being beaten by a large group of people.

"I've just witnessed a huge group of striking workers chase a non-worker down and beat him up. They were coming down the hill towards us."

Eyewitness News has also spoken to workers at a factory on the East Rand, which was targeted.

Staff there say dozens of people stole office equipment worth millions of rand and damaged the property.

It's believed the factory on Apex Road was specifically targeted because its workers belong to a different union. 

The factory's manager says it's difficult to assess the extent of the damage to his property but says it could cost between R50 and R60 million to get the factory up and running again.

"The Apple Macs were all damaged, which is critical to our business. Because that's where all the original functioning takes place."

The security guard outside told Eyewitness News he was terrified by the strikers. 

"They proceeded to the reception offices, smashing everything down while others were looting, stealing coffee and food and opening the fridges."

The factory will remain closed for business today.

Meanwhile Numsa's general secretary Irvin Jim says the union is willing to take action against members who are involved in the ongoing violence and intimidation.

But he says it can only do so if it has concrete proof.

"The problem with the nature of the intimidation and violence is that it's sporadic and in many cases it's difficult to be able to pin someone down."

WAGE OFFER REJECTED

Numsa has also rejected the employers' latest wage offer.

The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa (Seifsa) says another round of talks on Thursday night, aimed at ending the strike, failed.

The industrial action started on Tuesday with more than 200,000 workers downing tools. 

Seifsa says it had hoped that its new offer would lead to the conclusion of a deal, which would see employees returning to work next week. 

WAGE OFFER REJECTED

Numsa has also rejected the employers' latest wage offer.

The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa (Seifsa) says another round of talks on Thursday night, aimed at ending the strike, failed.

The industrial action, which has been marred by reports of intimidation and vandalism, started on Tuesday with more than 200,000 workers downing tools.

Seifsa says it had hoped that its new offer would lead to the conclusion of a deal, which would see employees returning to work next week.

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