Fresh clashes in S. Africa's restive farm region



AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

Published — Tuesday 15 January 2013

Last update 14 January 2013 9:39 pm

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DE DOORNS, South Africa: South African police yesterday fired a stun grenade to disperse a pre-dawn protest in the southwestern grape growing region, as labor unrest resumed after a weekend hiatus.
Officers had come under attack in De Doorns, a major fruit-growing region and the epicentre of violent strikes for better wages.
"At approximately 3 a.m. (0100 GMT) police members on foot patrol in the informal area of De Doorns were attacked by a group of people," said November Filander, police spokesman for the region.
Police used "a stun grenade to disperse the group," he told AFP. Three people were arrested for public violence.
Unions at the weekend vowed to intensify violent stoppages in the picturesque Western Cape wine lands to push for a wage hike from 69 rand ($8, six euros) to 150 rand a day.
Many of those on strike are seasonal workers, according to farmers.
Police last week used rubber bullets as they fought running battles with the thousands of strikers in the strife-hit areas. At least 125 arrests were made in three days of clashes.
The Bawsi Agricultural Workers' Union of South Africa (Bawusa) general secretary Nosey Pieter said the strikes would continue as the farmers had not come up with a tangible offer at talks held on Friday.
"The resounding message is that the strike will continue," he said.
He alleged that the main farmers union Agri SA was attempting to "sabotage" wage talks launched by individual farmers and unions.
"This is the hypocrisy of some of the partners," he added.
Government mediators at the weekend offered to facilitate talks.
sn/arb/bm

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