A morning of violent clashes with protesters in Wolseley climaxed with police opening fire on a group of strikers. Photo: INLSA

Cape Town - Cosatu has vehemently denied busing protesters to the Cape’s farming towns - but readily confirms it is trying to play “a leading role” in the mass action.

Provincial Cosatu head Tony Ehrenreich said: “The percentage of the protesters who are union members is very, very low, so Cosatu and its affiliates have sought to give structure to the action.”

The Cape Argus was sent a copy of a letter signed by Cosatu and various member unions and community organisations which urged farm workers across the province to stand in solidarity with their fellow workers in De Doorns.

Numerous sources said small numbers of instigators had been responsible for igniting violence in towns, by allegedly threatening permanent workers on farms that their houses would be torched and they would be hurt if they did not down tools.

One source, who did not wish to be named, alleged that the violence had typically taken place in towns with large communities of seasonal or contract workers.

“To those who actually live on the farms, burning a vineyard would be the same as burning their own house down, because they know that that is where their income comes from.”

Deputy provincial commissioner General Sharon Jafta was quoted last night as saying they had requested the SANDF for assistance.

Cape Argus