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Fear grows as Numsa strike continues

Benoni security guards refuse to work after being held at gunpoint, allegedly by Numsa members.

Striking Numsa members allegedly vandalised property on the East Rand on 3 July 2014. Picture: Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG - As the strike in the metal and engineering industry continues, security guards in Benoni have told Eyewitness News they won't be returning to work this morning after being held at gunpoint, allegedly by National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) members.

Watch: Thousands join nationwide Numsa strike

The security guards claim workers affiliated to the union descended on East Rand industrial areas on Thursday, terrorising staff, looting factories and forcing owners to close shop.

They have described their terror as hundreds of strikers, some of them dressed in red Numsa T-shirts, went on a rampage.

They allegedly assaulted people, looted companies and forced a shutdown at firms in the Apex Industrial area of Benoni.

Two visibly shaken security guards say they were beaten with shamboks after a gun was pointed at them, all while police looked on.

The police's Lungelo Dlamini says he is not aware of this and as far as he's concerned officers managed to defuse the situation.

"About 2,000 striking workers went into a company, damaged computers and two people were reportedly injured but when the police came in there, they disturbed them."

Eyewitness News arrived at one factory to find broken windows and the gate unhinged, marking the entry point used by the strikers.

It's alleged they left with equipment, phones and computers.

Images have also emerged showing the extent of the damage to some factories in Booysens in Southern Johannesburg.

People, alleged to be Numsa strikers, can be seen hurling stones and appearing to intimidate staff at a business.

A dog was killed after it was set alight.

A woman, who works at a factory in the area, says employees had to hide from a group of strikers.

"We all hid in the roof but they whipped open all our doors, they smashed all the windows when they got into the building."

Meanwhile, Numsa has warned the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa (Seifsa) not to involve police in issues it says only the union can resolve.

On Thursday the employer federation sent an urgent request to National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega, asking her to increase police visibility where Numsa workers are striking.

Seifsa's Ollie Madlala says the federation has asked police to be on high alert.

"We have actually written a letter to the police commissioner, asking her to ensure that the police stand ready to protect life and limb throughout the country."

But Numsa spokesperson Castro Ngobese has warned the South African Police Service not to provoke its members.

"From where we're sitting it's a declaration of war from the part of Seifsa because it's strongly believed that our members have behaved in a disciplined and mature manner since the strike started."

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