SA has a protest every two days
Johannesburg – South Africa’s wave of service delivery protests is far greater than previously imagined, with official police data revealing more than 3 000 protests in the past four years. Media24 Investigations used access to information law to ask the South African Police Service for official records showing service delivery protests across the country since January 2009. According to the data, there is a service delivery protest in South Africa – either violent or peaceful – at least once every two days.
The true scale of the protests is far greater than other estimates. Monitoring agency Municipal IQ recorded 410 “major service delivery protests” from 2009 to 2012. The organisation records sustained protests over multiple days as a single occurrence.
The University of the Western Cape’s Service Delivery Protest Barometer – which uses a slightly broader definition, but like Municipal IQ sources its data from media reports and other public records – arrived at about 720 protests from the beginning of 2009 to the end of August 2012. Karen Heese of Municipal IQ says the large variance between their numbers and those of the police can be attributed to how the protests are counted – her organisation focuses solely on protests against the municipalities, while protests reflected in the police data could also be those against other government bodies such as provincial governments.
“My understanding of the SAPS data is that it is per incident, so while we recorded, say, Olifantshoek as a single protest, there could well be hundreds of SAPS incidents reported, even perhaps on the same day,” she said. The police records – which show protests specifically classified as service delivery-related – show that there were 3 258 service delivery protests in the country between January 2009 and November last year, when the request for information was filed. Comprehensive count The records show service delivery protests by residential areas and policing districts across South Africa. This is the first time such a comprehensive count of service delivery protests has been made public.
Mmabatho in the North West had the highest number of service delivery protests, one every 4.7 days over nearly four years. Of those, 190 were peaceful and 111 were accompanied by unrest. Johannesburg had the second-highest number of protests (293), with Lenasia and Soweto with 26 protests and 39 respectively over the past four years. The Pretoria district was third with 235. Mbombela (Nelspruit) district had one of the most violent service delivery protests, with 106 violent protests and 61 peaceful protests. The Northern Cape recorded 74 violent and 65 peaceful protests.
Calm Restored in Southeastern Town After Weekend of Unrest
The situation in the southeastern town of Agareb has returned to normality after a weekend marked by confrontations between residents and National Guard forces. The unrest came the day after a local motorcyclist was hit by a National Guard vehicle on Friday evening, January 18. Member of the UGTT labor union, Taieb Bahri, who followed the events in Agareb from the ground, explained to Tunisia Live that the motorcyclist’s death was not necessarily the reason for the clashes.
“The involvement of the National Guard [in the accident] was a coincidence. Anyone could have been in their place,” Bahri said. “It was fate.” “People as well as the victim’s family understand it was an accident, yet [the unrest] was due to the… reaction of some security agents that allowed tension to arise,” Bahri continued. On Saturday, as residents were bringing the motorcyclist’s casket from the local mosque to a nearby cementary, recounted Bahri, some young people in the funeral procession held signs critical of the National Guard, which responded with tear gas. Such a reaction prompted further protests in front of the local National Guard station. Security forces resorted again to tear gas in a bid to disperse demonstrators, who were calling for the withdrawal of the National Guard from the town and the deployment of national army units instead, said Bahri. Regional National Guard officials were not available for comment at the time of publication.
Governor of Sfax Fathi Derbali called the reaction of protesters “exaggerated,” state news agency TAP reported. After security forces withdrew from Agareb in response to protesters’ demands, a group of residents stormed the local headquarters of the National Guard on Sunday and burnt documents and other such records without damaging the surrounding equipment. The reason for the selective destruction of paperwork remains unknown.
With the departure of security agents, locals have taken it upon themselves to establish a committee for local law enforcement and are addressing the security vacuum in the area. “People have volunteered their time to safeguard public institutions until the military is deployed,” Bahri explained. In addition, residents are currently cleaning the streets from the debris that resulted from the clashes and reopening their businesses.
181 strike deaths over last 13 years
Johannesburg – A total of 181 people have been killed in strike violence in the past 13 years, according to figures compiled by the SA Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR).
“The greatest number of fatalities occurred in 1999, 2006, and 2012 with 30, 69 and 60 deaths respectively,” the SAIRR said on Monday. The deaths in 1999 were high because of a dispute between the National Union of Mineworkers, the United Workers’ Union of SA and the United Democratic Movement. In 2006, a security guard strike between March and May accounted for a high number of deaths. Non-striking guards and on-duty guards were attacked and some were thrown off moving trains, the SAIRR said. The deaths in 2012 were a result of strikes in the mining sector. The worst was the 16 August shooting at the Lonmin Platinum Mine in Marikana in the North West where 34 miners were killed.
The SAIRR said the figures were compiled using print media reports. From January 1999 to October 2012, about 313 people had been injured during strikes and more than 3 058 arrested. Boitumelo Sethlatswe, a SAIRR researcher said: “Although the figures may not be exhaustive they indicate how strike action in South Africa is often characterised by violence. “Fatalities were most often the result of clashes between police and strikers, between striking and non-striking workers, and between rival unions.”
1,000 workers hold managers hostage in Shanghai labour row
More than 1,000 furious migrant workers besieged a factory in Shanghai and held 18 Japanese and Chinese managers against their will for more than a day, after the workers were required to abide by unequal regulations.
The workers of Japanese electronic appliance maker Shanghai Shinmei Electric staged a strike and besieged the factory for two days, starting around 8am on Friday morning, following the introduction of a new factory policy calling for heavy fines, demerits or immediate termination for workers who made a mistake, the Japan-based Asahi Shimbun reported yesterday. At least one Chinese manager with hypertension passed out after being forcibly detained along with the 17 others – seven Chinese and 10 Japanese – in two office rooms between Friday and Saturday.
The company’s president, Hideaki Tamura, was among those held. On Saturday night, more than 400 Shanghai police officers freed the managers. Tamura told the Asahi Shimbun by phone that more than 500 workers besieged his office, and the managers were not allowed to use the toilet. Tamura was locked in his office with six other Japanese managers and five Chinese, while the remaining six were locked in another room. The report said the factory’s new disciplinary policy was part of a reform scheme after the appliance maker was acquired by a Chinese company last year. Angry workers were cited by the BBC as saying that the new factory regulations, with what they said were 49 unequal clauses, triggered the protest. Another assembly worker, who declined to be named, said they were also angry over the acquisition.
She said workers feared that they would no longer enjoy the benefits accumulated in their previous years working in the factory after they signed a new contract following the acquisition by a Chinese firm in Dalian, Liaoning province. She said that several of her colleagues were injured when the anti-riot police rushed into the factory. One worker allegedly suffered broken ribs and another suffered a head injury.
Another worker wrote via a microblog about the desperate situation management allegedly put them in. “We earn less than 2,000 yuan [HK$2,468] a month, but we could be subjected to fines of 50 to 100 yuan for arriving late or spending more than two minutes in the toilet,” the post said. The company issued a statement yesterday apologising to workers for the new regulations, with a promise that their salaries would be increased.
Palestinians clash with security in Ramallah camp
RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories — At least 20 Palestinians were injured in clashes between protesters and Palestinian security forces at a refugee camp in Ramallah, medical sources said on Monday. Seven members of the security forces, along with 13 protesters, were injured in the clashes at the Amaari camp, they said. One protester was injured in the leg by live fire, although none of the wounded were in a serious condition, they added.
The clashes erupted Sunday evening after residents of the camp staged a protest over the reported mistreatment of Palestinian prisoners in an Israeli jail, marching out of the camp and blocking a road running alongside it. Security forces arrived at the scene in a bid to reopen the road, and protesters began throwing stones at them, witnesses and security sources said. The witnesses said security forces opened fire in the air before moving to push the protesters back into the camp. Adnan Damiri, a spokesman for the Palestinian security forces, said officers had moved in to reopen the road, which is a main thoroughfare connecting Ramallah with Jerusalem.
“The closure of the main road in this way required the intervention of security forces to reopen it,” he said. The clashes subsided shortly before midnight, witnesses said. They are the latest incident in which Palestinian protesters have clashed with security forces in the West Bank. In recent months, clashes have erupted between protesters and security forces in refugee camps near the northern West Bank cities of Jenin and Nablus over a Palestinian Authority bid to collect unauthorised weapons.
Palestinian Refugees Hold Sit-in
BEIRUT: Palestinian refugees displaced by the crisis in Syria held a sit-in Monday at the Beddawi refugee camp in north Lebanon to protest shortages in assistance. The demonstrators rallied outside the offices of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in response to a call from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP). They urged UNRWA to put in place an emergency plan to address their situation. DFLP official Atef Khalil said the needs of the Palestinian refugees displaced by the crisis in Lebanon’s neighbor needed to be addressed and not politicized.
He also demanded that Palestinians not be discriminated against and receive the same treatment that Syrian refugees were receiving. He also slammed the UNRWA, blaming the refugee agency for the refugees’ suffering, and called on the international organization to provide the necessary assistance. The number of Palestinian refugees who have fled to Lebanon as a result of events in Syria exceeds 13,000, according to figures from Lebanon’s General Security. The Palestinian refugees have faced increasingly hard living conditions in the country.
Newly formed body to campaign for PDS
IMPHAL, Jan 20: A conglomerate body christened ‘Unified People Struggle Committee’ has been formed today to pursue and intensify campaign for ensuring availability of public distribution system (PDS) items to the targeted beneficiaries. formation of the Committee was decided at a ‘people’s meet’ organised today by All Manipur Democratic Women’s Front at Manipur Press Club wherein representatives of different organisations were also present.
Aimed at exposing alleged mal-practices by officials concerned and elected people’s representatives and its impact falling upon the common people who are denied their full share/quota of PDS items, a seven-member advisory committee was approved at the Meet along with deciding to constitute district level committees.
Among others the meet also resolved to apprise Deputy Commissioners concerned for ensuring provision of PDS items to the people within January 30 failing which mass movement would be launched on the next day (February 1). It has also been decided to stage demonstration at the national capital in case State authorities fail to take relevant steps and submit memorandum to the Central Government to take effective measures to addressing the matter.