The City of Tshwane staunchly maintains that the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) will ultimately bear the financial burden resulting from the ongoing turmoil experienced by the metropolitan area.
Workers affiliated with the union have been engaged in a protracted strike, seeking a 5.4% pay increase for nearly five weeks as reported by IOL. Despite Samwu’s denial of any involvement in “criminal activities” associated with the strike, the situation has escalated, evidenced by the recent attacks on waste removal trucks in the city.
This week, two additional waste removal trucks fell victim to acts of violence, being set ablaze and left in ruins. The sight of smouldering wreckage was juxtaposed with the persistent heaps of garbage accumulating on street pavements, further exacerbating the municipality’s attempts to catch up on waste removal operations.
This recent development brings the tally of torched trucks to three. In contrast, two others were damaged at the strike’s onset approximately five weeks ago.
Tshwane’s mayor, Cilliers Brink, held a media briefing to address the situation in response to the escalating crisis. Brink asserted that he had instructed the city manager, Johann Mettler, to calculate the extent of the damages incurred meticulously. This sum would then be presented to Samwu upon the strike’s conclusion. Brink emphasised that regardless of whether the union retained control over the strike, it remained accountable for the repercussions of its actions.
He asserted, “Whether Samwu still has control of the strike or not, they still need to be held accountable. After this strike is over… and it has to be over at some stage… and we stand our ground that it will be over. There is going to be a bill that needs to be paid for the damage suffered by the city and by ratepayers. I’ve asked the city manager to start collecting that bill for a possible civil claim against Samwu.”
Brink acknowledged that the city had leads regarding the individuals responsible for the incendiary attacks on the trucks but refrained from divulging specific details, citing the need to preserve the ongoing investigation.
Before the media briefing, Brink released a video update highlighting progress made in the city’s efforts to get back on track with waste removal operations before the recent truck burnings. He lamented the setback caused by the torched trucks. He unequivocally labeled these incidents as a deliberate strategy to disrupt the city and its communities.
He revealed, “We were making good progress within our waste management catch-up plans but unfortunately in the past 24 hours, two removal trucks have been torched. It’s clear as daylight that this is part of the criminal strike action designed to bring the city and its communities to its knees.”
Brink revealed that contractors withdrew their services in response to the escalating violence.
In response to these developments, Dumisane Magagula, the general secretary of Samwu, expressed concerns about Brink’s assertions. He emphasised that their primary focus was on opposing the city’s exemption application, currently being heard in the SA Local Government Council. Magagula stressed that they prioritised ensuring workers received their deserved salary and wage increases rather than being distracted by the city’s claims.
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