DA provincial leader Ivan Meyer lodged a complaint of intimidation and incitement to violence against Cosatu provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich yesterday – while Ehrenreich has threatened to sue the party for “frivolous prosecution”.
The altercation comes as farmworkers are to meet on Sunday to discuss the looming deadline on Tuesday of whether the strike against the minimum wage for farmworkers should be resumed. The violent strike was called off on the understanding that an increase would be considered. The government has, however, refused to budge.
Meyer lodged the complaint against Ehrenreich at the Barrack Street police station in connection with a pamphlet allegedly distributed by Cosatu which read: “FEEL IT!!! Western Cape Marikana is here!!!”
The pamphlet, which has a National Education Health and Allied Workers Union logo, features a picture of Ehrenreich with text stating that he “has warned Zille on the imminent Marikana of the Western Cape”.
Meyer said the content of the pamphlet resonated “with Ehrenreich’s highly inflammatory remark about Marikana coming to the farms in the Western Cape”.
“We know what happened in Marikana. People were shot and killed. The poster is calling for violence and we can’t have a situation where people are calling for others to be shot. It is irresponsible to make such remarks in such a volatile situation,” Meyer said.
Ehrenreich said the complaint was baseless and described it as “another political gimmick by the DA”.
“People can say things on my name in the pamphlets or have my picture on them but as long as it is not attributed to me I have nothing to do with it. I fact, I distance myself from it.
“I’m looking forward to answering to those charges in court. I will be suing the DA for frivolous prosecution,” Ehrenreich said. He said he had explained his reference to Marikana as workers acting on their own without unions. The Western Cape agriculture sector was faced with the same situation, Ehrenreich said.
In anticipation of the strike, Premier Helen Zille wrote to Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula requesting the deployment of the SANDF “to play a peace-keeping role” after a threat of a “low-level civil war” in farming areas by Ehrenreich.
She had also contacted provincial police commissioner Arno Lamoer for his support for her request for the army to be called in. But Lamoer said they would not be requesting assistance.
“I stated to her [Zille] clearly that police resources are enough to deal with any eventualities. We are not a country at war,” Lamoer said.
Although he would not provide specific details, Lamoer said police were on high alert and ready.