Looting mars De Doorns protest

The N1 was blocked by rocks on Friday afternoon. Photo by Mzi Velapi

Passing trucks get looted as the unemployed in De Doorns protest against unemployment and bribery for jobs on farms in the area.

The N1 in De Doorns was closed after protesters blocked the road and looted trucks. The community of De Doorns is adamant that their legitimate protest was hijacked by criminal elements to loot trucks and that the labour issues that started the protest remain genuine. According to Mpumelelo Lubisi, a community leader, the protest started because they perceive farmers and farm supervisors employing foreign nationals over locals and that foreign nationals pay bribes to get jobs.

“The issues that the community has remain the same as the last time. Farmers and supervisors employ foreign nationals especially those from Zimbabwe over the locals. The supervisors take bribes from foreign nationals,” said Lubisi.

The protest according to Lubisi was taken over by “thugs who looted the trucks, but the issues of low wages on farms and unemployment in De Doorns, are what caused the protest and they remain genuine,” he said.

Vuyo Mnyila, an unemployed community member told Elitsha that he was told to offer a bribe if he wanted a job. “Last week Wednesday, I went to one of the farms and the supervisor, who was a Shona from Zimbabwe, told me that there are no jobs and if I needed a job I have to give him something,” he said.

Another community member, Andre van Rhyn said that they depend on nearby farms for employment. “Work is scarce here and we want the government to intervene and tell farmers that they must employ at least 90% of South Africans on the farms,” he said.

At a community imbizo in October last year, the then Deputy Minister of Rural Development, Mcebisi Skwatsha pleaded with the community not to let the farmers divide the community. He said that there is a need for the Department of Labour to take note of the exploitative and poor working conditions that farmworkers in the area are subjected to.

Also read:  Protest by unemployed in De Doorns takes a xenophobic turn

Lubisi said that they have been in contact with the Department of Rural Development, which has promised to come to the community next week.

Constable Marilize Box from De Doorns said that nine people were arrested for theft and one person for public violence . “We are expecting more arrests and the area is still unsafe for motorists,” she said. Box confirmed that the protest started because community members believe that the farmers employ foreign nationals over the locals.

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