6 November 2012

South Africa: De Doorns Unrest Addressed By the Western Cape Government

Photo: West Cape News
A fragile peace has descended on De Doorns, in the Western Cape’s Hex River Valley, where the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) is arbitrating between strikers and their employers after protests and wild rampages that saw vineyards burned and shops looted.

press release

The Western Cape Government is very concerned about the current illegal protest action in De Doorns. Three Western Cape MECs are currently in De Doorns: Van Rensburg, Agriculture and Rural Development; Meyer, Cultural Affairs and Sport; and Plato, Community Safety.

The Western Cape Government is urgently looking for ways in which to restore calm and order in the area. Intelligence estimates that approximate 8 000 protestors are mobilising to march on De Doorns today.

Van Rensburg said the Western Cape Government considers agriculture to be the backbone of the Provincial economy. The table grape season has recently started in De Doorns. There are approximately 16 000 farm worker job opportunities, of which 8 000 are seasonal, available in the valley. Van Rensburg said the Western Cape Government will work very hard with the Police and all local authorities to normalise the situation.

Van Rensburg said he is confident that it is not traditional Western Cape farm workers who are behind the illegal protest action. "We believe this to be politically motivated action, and not a labour protest. Van Rensburg said there are very good relations between farmers and farm workers in the area, and that he is saddened to learn of farm workers who are intimidated to partake in the protest. "It is at this stage very difficult to identify the leadership of the protest, and therefore impossible to engaged in dialogue with the protesters".

The Western Cape Government met with the police and farmer representatives this morning. At this meeting it was decided that dialogue with the protesters is the number one priority, and the local mayor, Basil Kivedo, will address the protestors later today. The police has requested for reinforcements as well as a helicopter to help with monitoring the situation.

The Western Cape Government will also bring in the services of an experienced negotiator to assist in resolving the situation. Minister Meyer said a solution can be found through dialogue. He urged all to remain calm and for all people to refrain from breaking the law.

The N1 highway is closed for all traffic outside Worcester and De Doorns, and an alternative rout via Ceres needs to be used at present.

Issued by: Western Cape Agriculture and Rural Development

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