Johannesburg - Fifty-three striking National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) members were arrested in Gauteng on Tuesday on possible charges of public violence, national police commissioner Riah Phiyega's office said.
“Police in Gauteng arrested 13 Numsa protesters in Brakpan and 40 people in Germiston on possible charges of public violence,” Lt-Gen Solomon Makgale said.
This added to the 28 protesters arrested previously in Gauteng and 17 protesters arrested in the Western Cape since the start the metals and engineering sector strike, which moved into its seventh day on Tuesday.
“These recent arrests brings the total number of people arrested in the country since the start of the strike to 98,” Makgale said.
“In KwaZulu-Natal, seven cases have been registered in the Pinetown area. SAPS members obtained and examined CCTV footage, identified possible suspects and are presently tracing them.”
Other provinces were also experiencing strike action but there had been no reports of violence or other related criminal behaviour.
Phiyega said she was seriously concerned about the sporadic violence, intimidation and other alleged criminal acts that had been taking place since the strike began.
While she did not object to anyone exercising their right to protest, the law clearly stated that this must be done procedurally, unarmed and in a peaceful manner.
Makgale said in this regard she had requested a meeting with the leadership of Numsa to discuss her concerns.
Earlier, Numsa spokesman Castro Ngobese urged striking members to act in a disciplined manner while on strike.
“As we are engaged in an indefinite national strike, we call on Numsa members participating in the national strike to exercise maximum discipline and not to involve themselves in violent acts of any kind,” Ngobese said in a statement.
Employer organisation Seifsa (Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of SA) said it had received reports of intimidation and damage to property from its members.
“A company in Alrode had to send its employees home for their safety, while another in the Dunswart area reported damage to its property,” said spokeswoman Ollie Madlala.
The strike began on July 1, with Numsa demanding a 15 percent wage increase and a R1000 housing allowance in a one-year bargaining agreement.
The union also demanded that the use of labour brokers should cease.
On Thursday, Seifsa tabled a three-year wage offer of between eight and 10 percent for different levels of workers in the first year.
The first category of worker was offered seven percent in 2015 and 2016, while the others were offered nine percent in the second year, and eight percent in the final year.