Ten vehicles and several office containers belonging to the WBHO construction company were torched during a protest in Langebaan yesterday. Photo: Supplied
Cape Town – Langebaan was on a knife-edge yesterday after a labour dispute led to the torching of 10 vehicles and several office containers belonging to the WBHO construction company.

Fifteen other vehicles were damaged in the violence. The construction company is building an oil storage facility but work at the site has been suspended.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel André Traut said cases of public violence, housebreaking, theft, malicious damage to property and arson were being investigated.

“An apparent labour dispute at the WBHO construction site in Langebaan this morning (yesterday) turned violent when an estimated 1200 construction workers set vehicles and office infrastructure alight.

“SAPS members have been deployed at the site to quell the violence and maintain law and order.

“The disgruntled workers fled the site and arrests were yet to be made.”

WBHO did respond to requests for comment by the time of publishing.

Community activist Sammy Claasen said the dispute concerned the company allegedly not creating work opportunities for hundreds of unemployed locals.

“The tensions between local workers, the community and the company have been (rising) because they (the company) keep on employing workers from Gauteng and retrenching local workers. They have already retrenched 350 workers.

Claasen said the company was warned to stop doing that.

“We regret the loss of property and violence but we also understand the frustration of workers.

“Local people have no access to (WBHO) senior managers; they keep shutting us out. The unemployment rate is more than 35%. We’ve got the skilled labour,” Claasen said.

Cape Times