Strike violence victims describe horror

A factory owner has told EWN about brutal assaults on him and a heavily pregnant employee.

Over 100 factories have had to shut their doors in Benoni following violence and intimidation by striking Numsa members. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - A severely beaten and traumatised factory owner on Friday described to Eyewitness News how a gang of strikers terrorised him and his colleagues inside his plastics firm in Benoni.

National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa ( Numsa) members embarked on a nationwide strike on Tuesday, demanding a 12 percent wage hike.

The latest 10 percent offer from employers for the lowest grade of workers was rejected on Friday.

On Thursday afternoon, Numsa members marched through Kempton Park to check if any of their fellow members had reported for duty.

Some of the strikers also called on non-striking workers to leave the factories but were prevented from going inside by police.

However, a mob brandishing sticks and metal rods stormed the man's factory and assaulted non-striking workers as well as other employees.

"They basically came in and they beat me with an iron rod or bar and knobkerrie," said the owner, who declined to be identified out of fear of further victimisation. "They were throwing broken pieces of bricks at me so I've been hit on the head and my hearing is gone."

#NumsaStrike This factory owner was assaulted inside his business premises yesterday. @Ngobeni007 reporting

#NumsaStrike This factory owner was severely assaulted. @Ngobeni007 reporting

GRAPHIC #NumsaStrike This factory owner declined to be identified fearing further victimisation. @Ngobeni007 reporting

A heavily-pregnant employee of his was also severely beaten and hospitalised.

"How am I supposed to protect my employees and myself," he asked, breaking down as he spoke.

Another man showed Eyewitness News around his factory offices which were broken into and ransacked.

More than 100 factories in the area closed down to avoid further violence.

Numsa shop steward Charles Kubayi said the march was simply meant to encourage solidarity with their mass action.

The union's leadership say they are willing to take action against members who are involved in any criminal acts.

Meanwhile, Gauteng police on Friday said they had arrested 26 strikers for acts of violence, intimidation and malicious damage to property.