Petrol strike turns violent

September 9

A security guard at a city petrol station is fighting for his life in hospital after being assaulted during the motor industry strike in Cape Town.

The 31-year-old suffered serious head injuries and multiple skull fractures in the attack with a brick, and is in a critical condition at the Netcare Kuils River Hospital.

He had surgery yesterday afternoon and was back in the ward by early evening.

Netcare 911 emergency medical services’ Lauren Copley said it was believed a group of striking protesters at a Brackenfell garage assaulted the security guard with a brick.

It is unclear, however, who was behind the violence.

Colleagues took the “seriously injured” guard to a nearby MediCross hospital.

Netcare 911 paramedics were dispatched and transported the guard to hospital.

When the Cape Times contacted the hospital yesterday, his girlfriend had just left after visiting him.

His family refused to speak to the media and had asked hospital staff not to release his name, allow photographs to be taken or their contact details to be released.

National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) organiser in the Western Cape Mohammed Ismail said it was not clear who had been behind the violence. It could not be confirmed whether it was Numsa members.

“It got chaotic here (at the regional officers where strikers convened). A number of people arrived who are not Numsa members and it got too volatile,” Ismail said.

Police spokesman Andre Traut said last night no one had yet been arrested and police would investigate a case of attempted murder.

There had been no other serious injuries reported to the police, Traut said.

A mass Numsa meeting is scheduled for today so members can discuss what has happened during the strike so far and whether they will accept an offered wage increase of 10 percent this year, 9 percent next year and 9 percent in 2012.

They want a 15 percent increase.

Several city petrol stations were forced to close temporarily as a mob of about 60, claiming to be striking motor industry workers, attacked and threatened non-striking workers and motorists trying to fill their tanks in Kraaifontein. They have threatened to continue their action today.

The group then boarded a train and headed to Brackenfell. When the Cape Times arrived in Brackenfell, members of the group, carrying whips and sticks and clutching chunks of brick, ran from the station towards a Shell garage.

There they attacked a worker before leaving her and running to a parking area opposite the garage. A group started whipping a car, then turned on another woman, jostling her. The mob ran towards an Engen garage but police cars sped up and blocked them off before they could get there.

Two men threatened the Cape Times photographer and a woman threw a piece of brick at this reporter, shouting that the reporter may not take notes nor the photographer photograph the mob’s actions.

A few people also shouted and swore at police officers telling them to “get out our way”. Scared petrol attendants and workers were rushed into a shop under police guard.

“No one is supposed to work. Everyone must get involved in the strike. Come here, come here or you’ll see,” a man, carrying a long stick, shouted.

The group ran to a nearby Total garage where they threw rocks at workers, whipped and kicked petrol pumps and smashed the window of a From Page 1

motorist’s bakkie. Tom Knoetzen, the owner of the bakkie, stood trembling as the mob moved on. “Look what they’ve done. Look at this,” he said. Another motorist tried to get petrol but the workers, huddled in a shop, indicated that she should leave.

The group, surrounded by police cars and officers carrying weapons, moved to the station where they boarded a train to Bellville.

In Bellville a group of about 1 000 striking Numsa members marched to Numsa’s regional office in Voortrekker Road, monitored by scores of police officers as a police helicopter hovered above.

The group had planned to picket outside petrol stations and car retailers, but this had to be called off as the situation began to spiral out of control.

A police officer urged Numsa marshals, who were to have surrounded the picketers, to report anyone intimidating petrol attendants. The BP in Voortrekker Road was empty and a sign read: “Closed due to strike. Sorry for inconvenience.”

Ismail said Numsa negotiators were trying to break the deadlock. Besides the 15 percent wage increase, workers want a 4.3 percent increase in bonuses, the outlawing of labour brokers and double pay for weekend work.

This entry was posted in resistance and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.