Three Sannicare striking workers were hospitalised on Tuesday night following a fight following from protests over the bucket system in Gugulethu’s Europe informal settlement not having been serviced for almost three months.
A fourth person, a resident, was also treated in hospital following the attack.
Following violent protests which resulted in the closure of the N2 during rush hour traffic on Monday, workers Gibson Matshepu from Kanana, two men known only as ‘Andile’ and ‘Rasta’ from Philippi, and Europe resident Zukisani Ncaphayi were attacked, allegedly by members of Europe’s new residents committee who accused them of trying to burn down their homes.
The fight started after the striking workers went to Europe to ask the new residents committee, who did not take part in Monday’s protest in which Kanana and Barcelona informal settlement residents participated, to support the strike.
On their arrival Tuesday night the new committee was having a meeting with residents. Striking workers said they asked to speak with committee chairperson Zilindile Gcobo, but Gcobo indicated they should wait until the meeting was finished.
According to workers the meeting went on a long time so they decided to go to Gcobo’s house to leave a message for him, but no one was there.
They said while they asked neighbours to give Gcobo a message, Gcobo’s brother arrived and wanted to know what they were looking for at the house.
Workers said they saw Gcobo’s brother pulling something out of his jacket, they thought it was a gun and they ran.
One of the workers who escaped, Thulani Fatman said as they started running “more leaders came”.
“They started beating us, we all ran in different directions,” he said.
Fatman said he heard later that night that four of his colleagues were hurt.
The workers are striking for a wage increase after Sannicare cut wages in October last year from R268 per day to R130 per day for three months after which wages would return to their former level.
Zukisa Ncaphayi, 23, who lives in Europe, said he believed the new committee attacked him because his brother supports the striking workers.
Ncaphayi said he was not with the delegation of striking workers but saw a group of residents, including leaders of the new and old residents’ committee, in his neighbour’s house.
“I went to check what was happening because I knew my neighbour was not there the time. When I arrived there one of the leaders pointed at me. They asked where was my brother?”
He said before he had time to answer he was struck in the mouth with a golf stick.
“They all came and started beating me with sticks. One stabbed me with a spear in my arm. That’s when I managed to escape and start running, luckily I met my brother on the way.”
His brother Bulelani said when they got to KTC hospital he saw two of the striking workers who were being treated for stab wounds.
His said they were all send to Groote Schuur hospital.
Gcobo said he received a tip off that the delegation of striking workers were sent by the old committee who supports the strike, to burn down his house.
He said when the workers arrived he knew they were there to attack his committee.
“They went to my house looking for my wife but she was not there. They left a message to neighbours saying ‘I must stop what I’m doing if I do not want to die’.
“When my brother arrived they ran away, residents chased them. One was caught and residents beat him. Then he was handed over to police. I opened a case against him,” said Gcobo.
Provincial police spokesperson, Andrè Traut confirmed an incident where representatives of a splinter groups and a group of strikers got involved in a fight at about 8pm on Tuesday night.
“Police were called in about the incident, during which the situation was resolved,” said Traut.
He said, a 41 year old man from Philippi was arrested for public violence and a case of intimidation was also opened.
He said three people were treated at a nearby hospital for “slight injuries”.
However, residents and family members said Gibson, Rasta and Andile had been transferred to Groote Schuur hospital and were still there yesterday (Wed) afternoon. – Nombulelo Damba