Slow start to Cosatu's e-toll protest

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IOL mot feb11 etoll protest

Independent Newspapers

File photo from the Cosatus Drive-Slow protest in 2012. Image: Chris Collingridge.

About 30 police cars assembled at an open space in Marabastad, on the outskirts of Pretoria on Monday morning ahead of the planned Cosatu protest over e-tolling.

At 7am, less than 10 activists in red Cosatu regalia were standing close to the large contingent of police officers drawn from different units including the Tshwane Metro police, Gauteng traffic police and the SA Police Service.

More than 10 police officers arrived on motorbikes. An ambulance from Emergency Services was also at the scene on Monday morning.

The protesters were chatting inaudibly amongst themselves, a few meters from the police officers. Several local and international news crews were also on the scene.

A statement issued by Cosatu last week said the protest march would start at 6am.

After leaving Marabastad, protesters are scheduled to head onto the N1 towards Johannesburg.

MOTHER OF ALL BATTLES?

Earlier this month, Cosatu secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi urged South Africans to prepare for the “mother of all battles” against Gauteng e-tolls, high electricity prices and corruption.

“The mother of all battles is coming this year against the e-tolls, the banning of labour brokers and corruption... we are in so much trouble when it comes to the deep rot of corruption,” he said.

Vavi was addressing the Cosatu provincial shop stewards' council at the University of Johannesburg's Soweto campus.

Last month, Cosatu Gauteng provincial secretary Dumisani Dakile said the action would be carried out in other provinces as well to ensure it became a “national act”.

The second protest would be held on February 25 in Pretoria at the opening of the Gauteng legislature.

“People there at the opening were invited to wear suits and ties. We will wear t-shirts and demonstrate with the workers, we will fight for the scrapping of e-tolling,” said Dakile previously.

The third protest would be held on March 7, the anniversary of Cosatu's nationwide strike last year against e-tolling and labour broking.

Dakile said the protests last year were “a taste of what is to come”.

“Even if it means that there must be action every week... until government listens to us, we are prepared to do so,” Dakile said.

On January 25, the High Court in Pretoria granted the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) leave to take the matter to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein.

Outa had applied to appeal a December 13, 2012, judgment, which dismissed its bid to have the electronic tolling of Gauteng's major roads scrapped.

Dakile said Cosatu hoped renewed protests would elicit a response from government. -Sapa


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