Police, SANDF help called for amid strike

Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said the striking workers had until Wednesday afternoon to return to work or they could face dismissal. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/Indpendent Newspapers

Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said the striking workers had until Wednesday afternoon to return to work or they could face dismissal. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/Indpendent Newspapers

Published Mar 7, 2024


A report looking at the impact of the strike by eThekwini Municipality workers has called for the “beefing up” of intelligence, the deployment of additional police officers and for technical expertise to be called for from the SANDF.

It was presented during an executive committee meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

While the recommendations only made mention of the SANDF being asked to render technical expertise with no indication of what this may entail, opposition parties called for the army to be deployed.

Workers affiliated with the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) have been on strike since last week.

The report revealed that units across the city are almost completely non-operational, to the detriment of the public.

Among the recommendations was a call for the national government to support the City and province in managing the strike through the provision of intelligence information and the deployment of additional police officers for preventive operations aimed at enhancing safety and security capacity.

It added that additional technical expertise was required from the SANDF, given the implications of the strike and its potential consequences against the backdrop of lessons learnt in July 2021 and the volatile political landscape in view of the upcoming national and provincial elections of May 29.

IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said the situation was serious and required intervention, including deployment of the SANDF.

“Prince Buthelezi (late IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi) is no more. ( He) could call the president of the country and say, ‘Mr President, things are not right, please deploy the SANDF’,” said the IFP councillor.

Nkosi said the deployment of the SANDF was important to protect those who are working.

DA councillor Yogis Govender said law enforcement was inadequate and ill-equipped to deal with the level of unrest and protests.

“One week later, we are asking why all the high-level meetings that have been happening have not been decisive enough to call in the SANDF earlier.

“The blatant sabotage, destruction and threats to life cannot go unchecked. The army ought to have been deployed to our national key points and visible policing from all sectors,” she said.

Looking at the strike’s impact, the report said that in the water unit, supply to many areas was affected by water outages due to inlet valves not being opened. The strike had also led to water meters being damaged and a water truck was stoned.

In the electricity unit, it said, one of the challenges was the inability to respond to faults and restore electricity to multiple areas due to ongoing threats, victimisation and harassment.

Since the strike began, many homes have been left without power for extended periods.

On February 28, six areas were off for 96 hours and on February 29, 10 areas were off for 72 hours.

Between March 1 and 2 there were 27 areas off for between 24 and 48 hours.

The most affected areas seem to be the northern and southern regions.

“There are currently 45 areas affected, and this number is growing every few hours.

“The electricity unit is severely impacted as those who are striking are targeting electricity service centres and intimidating staff who are working.

“Staff are forcefully and violently removed from the offices.

“It is becoming a major safety hazard to continue working,” it said.

As an intervention, private security was being used; however, the resources were insufficient and not yielding the desired results, it said.

Progress was ongoing but slow because staff were being victimised and harassed, it added.

“Should the strike continue, then a dedicated security would be required to escort the fault teams to and from fault locations,” it said.

On refuse, the report indicated that collection was at a standstill and many of the City’s sites were deemed high risk.

On health, the report stated: “We have received reports of health employees being forcefully removed from their facilities.

“Employees cannot get to facilities, causing staff shortages; clinic services were disrupted; patients were left unattended; and environmental health services were unable to conduct inspections in the CBD,” it said.

In the parks, recreation and culture department, it listed injuries among five staff members. A librarian was assaulted on site, while three others were assaulted in council vehicles.

It said staff were being intimidated and physically dragged out of workplaces under threat.

“Those who resist are assaulted.

Council vehicles and drivers are targeted with attacks,” it said.

Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said the striking workers had until Wednesday afternoon to return to work or they could face dismissal.

The Mercury