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40 arrested for SA protests

16 November 2012, 15:28

Cape Town - Forty people have been arrested in connection with violent protests in Swellendam, police confirmed on Friday.

The 40 people are expected to appear in court on charges of public violence as soon as they have been formally charged, Eyewitness News tweeted.

Police also confirmed that nine people were injured in the protests.

Protesters looted shops and set buildings alight in the Western Cape town.

People were apparently protesting over poor service delivery.

"We have received reports of unrest and torching of businesses, but the situation is under control," Western Cape police spokesperson Lieutenant General Andre Traut said.

Bottle store looted

Traut said police officers were monitoring the situation.

According to news reports on Friday morning the situation in the area was tense and roads were blockaded with rocks and burning tyres.

ENews Channel Africa (eNCA) reported that shops were being set alight, protesters looted a bottle store and a butchery was torched in Swellendam on Thursday night and Friday morning.

Damage to the bottle store was estimated at nearly R120 000 while the butchery was looted and goods worth about R30 000 were stolen.

The N2 had again been blockaded with rocks and burning tyres.

According to eNCA, police had to use rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse protesters.

Farmworkers continue strike

Meanwhile, the SABC radio reported that tensions were high in De Doorns as farmworkers continued with their wage strike. Several people had been arrested for allegedly intimidating others from going back to work.

Earlier this week, workers agreed to suspend the strike on condition that the Employment Condition Commission look at the bargaining council for agriculture by next Wednesday.

Protests about wages and living conditions started in De Doorns last week and had spread to 15 other towns in the Western Cape by Wednesday.

The protests started with table grape harvesters, who wanted to be paid R150 a day. Most earned between R69 and R75 a day.



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