Violence erupts at two Jozi post offices

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IOL Post Office 699 (44308303) THE STAR A car was burnt next to Saxonwold post office in Rosebank, Joburg. The car was quickly removed and only the dark spot where it was burnt remained. Photo: Boxer Ngwenya

Johannesburg - There was violence and fires at two Joburg post offices on Tuesday, with a van being burnt at one and protests at another.

This follows 473 casual postal workers being fired on Monday after engaging in a three-week strike.

Throughout the day on Tuesday, a number of former Post Office workers burnt rubbish and blockaded roads outside the Randburg post office.

Joburg Emergency Services spokesman Robert Mulaudzi said they were called to the scene to investigate smoke, but found that the building’s structure was not on fire.

Mulaudzi said that shortly after responding to the Randburg post office, they were called to the Rosebank post office, where a postal van had been set on fire.

Police spokeswoman Constable Mpho Mashakane confirmed that just after 1pm on Tuesday, three people approached the van and set it on fire, before fleeing the scene. She said they were not certain what was used to start the fire, and no arrests had been made.

Mashakane said the incident was isolated and was not accompanied by any other violence or protests at the Rosebank post office.

The 473 fired employees had called on management to employ them permanently and were sacked by the Post Office because they allegedly engaged in violence.

The strike has caused severe delays in the delivery of mail from the Tshwane and Ekurhuleni distribution centres.

The Post Office did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

A Post Office employee said a human resources employee was stoned by casual workers and admitted to hospital last Tuesday. She was in intensive care.

The DA has called on the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Siyabonga Cwele, to put an end to the strike by postal workers, which the party claimed had turned violent in recent days and was costing the Post Office millions of rand.

The DA said striking workers at various post offices had inflicted damage amounting to R5 025 760, and that about 78 690 man hours had been lost, while losses totalling about R71 million had been incurred.

Casual workers’ task team leader Desmond Moeketsi said they had heard about the allegations about damage, but were not the ones responsible, nor had they intimidated anyone.

“We have been coming together and marching peacefully, moving from one place to the other trying to get help. Today we even marched to the premier’s office, but we were turned back as we did not have an appointment,” he said.

Moeketsi said there were permanent employees who were dismissed by the Post Office last month who could also have been responsible for the damage.

He said he was disappointed they were being blamed for something they had not done.

SA Post Office head of group communication Khulani Qoma said the strike officially started on the August 18 and had been filled with violence and vandalism from the beginning.

“We have continually reported the incidents of assault and violence within the affected areas and have tried our best to reinforce the security at our premises,” said Qoma.

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