Violence erupts amid stand-off over wages in City of Tshwane

An already tense labour dispute in the City of Tshwane reached a disturbing climax on Wednesday when striking employees torched two municipal vehicles.

Two City of Tshwane employees were also injured during the skirmishes.

The incident unfolded outside the Princess Park depot along Nana Sita (westbound), Charlotte Maxeke, and Es’kia Mphahlele streets.

The municipality confirmed that violent scenes broke out, which occurred in the midst of a protracted stand-off between City of Tshwane and its unionised employees.

City spokesperson Selby Bokaba said a water truck belonging to the city was set alight shortly after filling up at a depot for delivery to region-four informal settlements.

The driver of the truck was assaulted but managed to escape without serious injuries.

In addition to the torching of the water truck, a municipal bakkie was also set alight in the same vicinity. Two unit members were rushed to the hospital after sustaining injuries.

“The bakkie, which was also torched along the same precinct as the truck, belongs to the city’s asset protection monitoring unit,” said Bokaba.

“Two members were injured and taken to the hospital. The members are responsible for the protection of the city’s assets such as the depots and substations.”

He said at the time of the attack, the unit members were guarding the depots.

The labour dispute began in July when some municipal workers went on strike demanding that they be paid higher salaries.

The city cited financial constraints as the reason for not meeting the workers’ wage hike demands, further exacerbating tensions.

As the labour dispute escalates and turns increasingly violent, concerns are mounting about the impact on essential services and the safety of the residents of Tshwane.

Authorities are facing growing pressure to find a resolution to the stand-off and prevent further damage to property and danger to human lives.

Recently, the SA Local Government Bargaining Council rejected an application by the Tshwane metro to be exempted from implementing the final phase of a multi-term wage agreement reached in 2021.

In response to the ruling, the city administration expressed its intent to challenge it.

The city argued that the municipality is grappling with a dire financial situation and that it cannot afford a 5.4% wage increase demand.

Reacting to violence that erupted earlier in the day, the DA caucus in the city called on law-enforcement authorities to intervene.

Speaking to the media, caucus leader Kwena Moloto said: “This is not a labour dispute, this is organised crime.”

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