SANDF on stand-by to quell violent strike

EThekwini municipality was said to have requested the army if the strike continues. | Elmond Jiyane, DoC

EThekwini municipality was said to have requested the army if the strike continues. | Elmond Jiyane, DoC

Published Mar 7, 2024


Durban — The SANDF could be deployed to quell the violent strike by eThekwini workers if they do not return to work by the end of the week.

This was intimated by Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda to the City’s Executive Council members at a specially convened meeting to discuss the violent strike that has paralysed service delivery and businesses.

The meeting held on Tuesday evening was requested by the opposition to be apprised by the mayor of the plans to quell the strike since he had met the national and provincial government leadership.

Several Exco members told the Daily News on Wednesday that the mayor informed them the army was ready to come in and assist if police were overstretched – like during the looting of 2021 – saying the matter was discussed during a national security cluster meeting last week.

The mayor’s spokesperson, Mluleki Mntungwa, referred the newspaper to the joint statement issued by the City and provincial government on Sunday.

That statement said that at a meeting, the premier outlined interventions by security cluster ministers where it was agreed to deploy more law enforcement agencies if the strike persisted, but it did not specifically mention the army.

Briefing Exco members at Tuesday’s meeting, the mayor warned workers to return to work or face dismissal since the strike was illegal. Exco members were also briefed about resolutions taken by a special meeting by ministers from the Justice Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster on Sunday, March 3.

In his plan, the mayor told the Exco that metro police and other law enforcement agencies had been sourced to escort staff to service delivery points, including clearing roads, electricity faults, water leaks, burst pipes, and refuse removal. This aimed at addressing the challenge of intimidation and attacks on non-striking workers.

Kaunda said the metro police and SAPS were on high alert and would take the necessary action.

Private contractors had also been hired to attend to water and electricity faults, he said.

A team had been set up to analyse all video footage of the destruction of property, including the abuse of state vehicles in possession of municipal employees who participated in the illegal strike. The culprits were being identified, Kaunda said.

“We will not tolerate anarchy. We are not running a banana republic, nor will we be held to ransom. We are focusing on restoring basic services such as water and electricity in all areas affected by the illegal strike.”

The City said it was aware that workers were demanding an adjustment of salaries to match other metros, but it was yet to receive any memorandum from the workers except a one-page paper with Ekurhuleni Municipality pay scales submitted to the Office of the City Manager on February 27.

Based on the information submitted, it would seem Samwu is demanding pay parity with Ekurhuleni Municipality and/or implementation of Category 10 pay scales, he said. Workers downed tools last week. So far the City said it had suspended 20 employees linked to the strike.

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