R10 increase triggers bullets

Policemen inspect the scene after one person was killed during the strike at Ocon Bricks. Photo: Lazarus Dithagiso

VEREENIGING. – Firearms and rubber bullets were allegedly used by management and security personnel to disperse strikers demanding a R10 per hour increase at Ocon Bricks near Rust-ter-Vaal last week.

One striker died and five were hospitalised. De-Deur Station Commander Colonel Bonny Molefi said cases of murder and attempted murder have been opened. No one has been arrested as police investigations continue. The deceased has yet to be identified. He is reported to have been hacked to death with a panga wielded by striking workers during a confrontation with casual workers who were working during the strike.

Unconfirmed rumours made by the protesters are that four other people were killed since the beginning of the strike. An anonymous worker said that the victims were casual workers. About 400 workers who are members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) told Sedibeng Ster that they are being lethally targeted for demanding only a R10 per hour increase across the board from their employers.

The strike started as a ‘go slow’ in March. The workers said an increase of R1,50 that the management promised them did not add value to their demands. Molefi said that, during the strike, the management apparently decided to hire temporary workers. This caused chaos as workers then went on a rampage. They apparently faced off with the casual workers and a fight broke out.

It is said that the management, with the assistance of security guards, gave chase and shot at the striking workers who ran for cover in a mealie field nearby. Police were called and they broke up the melee. When the police arrived, there were shell-casings in and outside the premises. Among those hospitalised, were protesters who had been shot in the buttocks and legs.
Contacting the management of the company for comment proved to be fruitless.

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