N1 remains closed in farm protest

De Doorns - The N1 highway at De Doorns remained closed to traffic on Wednesday afternoon amid continued clashes between farmworkers and the police.

Protesters blocked the road with rocks and threw stones at the police, who retaliated by firing rubber bullets.

Protest in De Doorns turns violent. File photo: Brenton Geach. Credit: INLSA

The protest forms part of the first day of renewed strike action  by workers in demand of a wage of R150 a day. A protester said she had no alternative but to strike, because she could not survive on R60 a day.

Lt-Col Andre Traut said at least 50 people were arrested across the Western Cape on Wednesday on public violence-related charges.

Porchia Adams, a spokeswoman for farmers' group Agri Wes-Cape, said 80 percent of permanently employed farm workers in the fruit-growing area had turned up for work on Wednesday.

She said most of those who did not, did not live on the farms. She claimed they had been coerced into staying away from work.

"They said they had been threatened that their houses would be burnt down if they went to work so it was not worth the risk for them."

Adams said that although the strike came at the worst time for fruit-growers, the group had understanding for "people being unhappy".

"It is peak season, so we really cannot afford it. We hope this will be resolved soon." - Sapa