‘There are criminal elements involved’

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Copy of ct De Doorns farmstrike, Betti Fortuin from BAWUSA committee 9211 copy . BETTER WAGES: Blowing a whistle at yesterday's meeting in De Doorns is Bawusa committee member Bettie Fortuin with leader Nosey Pieterse in the background. Picture: COURTNEY AFRICA

Xolani Koyana and Jason Felix

THE farm strike should be called off, says the ANC chairman in the Boland.

According to Pat Marran the government has stepped in, some farmers are willing to negotiate, and criminals have become involved.

Marran was shot at by TSU security guards last week and has lodged a criminal complaint against the company.

He was also the person who pulled a Cape Times reporter to safety when a mob attacked the journalist and an intern in their car, setting the car alight.

Yesterday Marran cautioned against the violent direction the strike has taken.

CT pat marran PAT MARRAN .

“Some farmers have said that they are willing to negotiate but I feel that cannot be done in such an environment. It is tense and very violent there.

“Government departments have also come to the party and showed willingness to assist. In light of that, maybe it would be right to consider calling off the strike,” Marran said.

“There are criminal elements involved. Looting has taken place and vehicles have been damaged and set alight. That is why the ANC in the province has called for a cooldown on the strike.

“I have spoken to union leaders and told them I have decided to distance myself from the strike for the moment.”

A De Doorns man died in hospital yesterday from injuries sustained when he was allegedly shot with a rubber bullet by police during Monday’s violent farmworker protest in the area.

Three people have now died in the strike.

Community member Shaun Yanta alleged that Letsekang Thokoene was not part of the protest and worked at a spaza shop in De Doorns. Yanta said Thokoene’s family in the Eastern Cape had been informed about his death.

Police spokesman Frederick Van Wyk confirmed that a 23-year-old man had been taken to hospital by residents.

“He subsequently died due to injuries sustained during a shooting incident in De Doorns. It is unclear where the incident happened,” Van Wyk said.

Ten year old Refoelwe Musala was also caught in the crossfire on Monday. A rubber bullet, fired by police, struck her next to her right eye, causing severe swelling.

Addressing a crowd in De Doorns the general secretary of the Black Agricultural Workers Union of SA, Nosey Pieterse, asked for a minute of silence to be observed for Thokoene.

“The third comrade has died in this struggle. All we came for was a R150. We instead were met with the killing of our people. We shall not give up on our actions and demand for better wages,” Pieterse told the crowd.

In Barrydale, four people were arrested for public violence when about 40 workers burned tyres on a gravel road leading to a depot, preventing trucks from transporting goods.

Ward councillor in Barrydale Amanda Swartz said a bus, used to transport workers, was set alight early yesterday morning.

Pupils in the affected areas could receive police escorts into school today after educators at the Witzenberg Primary School in Wolseley could not enter the grounds yesterday as a result of a nearby stand-off between police and protesters.

Bronagh Casey, the spokeswoman for Education MEC Donald Grant, said officials in the Wolseley area were monitoring the situation with schools and the police closely.

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