South Africa: Western Cape Farmworkers Continue Protest

Photo: Kate Stegeman/Daily Maverick
Police monitor demonstrators: Protests had spread across the winelands from De Doorns to Robertson, Wolesley, Ceres, Prince Alfred Hamlet and the surrounds.

Cape Town — Farmworkers continued protests in the Western Cape and burned tyres on Wednesday morning while police fired rubber bullets to disperse a crowd.

Residents set tyres alight in the De Doorns informal settlement, and a road leading into Stofland was blocked by a heap of burning tyres on Wednesday morning.

A few residents milled around the tyres, with an armoured police Nyala parked nearby.

The highway was open on Wednesday morning and a portion of the national road near De Doorns was marked with black circles, indicating where police had earlier removed burning tyres.

At Prince Alfred Hamlet in the Overberg, police fired rubber bullets at a group of about 70 farmworkers who pelted police with stones.

Police spokeswoman Constable Lybey Swartz could not confirm this, saying no reports had reached the Western Cape media centre.

Grape harvesters in the Hex River Valley have been protesting for over a week about their wages, demanding R150 a day. Most earn between R69 and R75 a day, with R80 being the highest and only offer from farmers so far.

According to reports on Wednesday, protests were taking place in 16 towns across the province and several workers had been arrested for public violence.

Food and Allied Workers' Union president Attwell Nazo and general secretary Katishi Masemola will later address workers in Ceres and De Doorns.

In Piketberg, on the Cape West Coast, workers gathered outside one of the farms in the area amid a heavy police presence.

They were bussed in or arrived on foot from the surrounding farms in the area.

Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson was expected to meet President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday to obtain his support for higher wages for farmworkers.

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