The DA said that Numsa should take responsibility for the loss of life and destruction of property that has allegedly characterised its current industrial action at some plastic factories. Picture: Armand Hough / African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Thursday said that the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) should take responsibility for the loss of life and destruction of property that has allegedly characterized its current industrial action at some plastic factories.

A security guard, Lesley Lekgalake Mphahlele, died on Tuesday after succumbing to his injuries, sustained after he was doused with petrol and set alight by violent protesters at Makulu Plastics in the East Rand, eKurhuleni.

Industrial areas that have been affected by the violence and intimidation include Isando, Spartan, Jet Park, Sebenza and Wadeville. In October, a factory in Ladybrand in the Free State, was burned down by striking workers.

The Plastics Converters Association (PCASA) has blamed Numsa for the violence resulting from the union's strike, but Numsa denied responsibility.

Michael Waters, DA deputy chief whip, said other victims of the strike violence have been injured and are on life support, and intimidation was rife.

"During the past three weeks, 10 attacks have taken place in the area, with more than 20 private vehicles torched and several trucks have been petrol bombed. The police have an obligation and duty to protect life and property and should be enforcing the law and arresting every individual who breaks the law," Waters said.

"A security guard has died from severe burns, another is on life support in ICU and another individual has had to have a finger amputated. Yet the South African Police Service (SAPS) has yet to make any arrests in connection with these crimes. We once again call for an honest and professional police service that is well-trained and well-resourced to adequately."

Waters said the Labour Relations Act allows for peaceful picketing, not violent picketing. He also said common law provides for vicarious liability, which allows union bosses to be held accountable if their members commit crimes while picketing.

"Numsa bosses have failed to condemn the murder, violence, intimidation and destruction of property nor have they insisted that their members abide by the law. The strike and mayhem is spreading, while the police appear to be powerless," Waters said.

"[Police] Minister Bheki Cele cannot sit on his hands while scenes resembling a warzone unfold. As the political head of the SAPS, he needs to show leadership."

Numsa members have been on a strike in the plastic industry for three months now demanding a 15 percent wage increase and the same treatment as engineering workers.

African News Agency (ANA)