SAMWU mourns the loss of life and condemns police attack on non-striking workers in Durban

03 May 2019

SAMWU mourns the loss of life and condemns police attack on non-striking workers in Durban

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) has learnt with a heavy heart of the passing of at least one person on the 2nd May 2019 after police used a combination of rubber bullets and live ammunition to disperse workers who had gathered at Durban City hall to receive an update on the talks between the employer and SAMWU.

We can confirm that at least one worker from the Solid Waste Department has unfortunately succumbed to the injuries sustained as a result of police’s action. Many more have been attended to at various hospitals around the City while almost 30 of our members have been arrested.

First and foremost, neither SAMWU nor its members are on strike at the City of eThekwini. Workers were yesterday called by the City Manager to come to the City Hall to receive an update on the grievances which they had made since the 12th of April 2019. In all these discussions, the Mayor of eThekwini is no where to be seen, workers are looking for her to come address them on how these issues will be resolved.

After workers were addressed by the City Manager, they mandated their leaders to go into a meeting with the City’s management which was led by the Deputy Mayor who was in attendance along with the City Manager and the head of Human Resources.

Workers have put legitimate demands on the table, they are particularly demanding that the principle of equal work, equal pay be applied across the board. In marathon meetings which we have been holding with the City and their representatives, there has been no concrete commitment by the City to amicably resolve issues raised by workers.

Clearly, the City of eThekwini’s management has derived a formula to lose the upcoming general elections. They have allowed this situation to escalate to this point, particularly on the eve of elections, technically showing workers and community members the middle finger. They have told workers that they are not and will not be entertaining the issues which raised by workers.

The City is hellbent on pushing workers to go on a full-blown strike action, it seems as though they are not interested in industrial peace within the City. It further seems as though they are not interested in seeing workers delivering services to the residents of the City as they continually push workers to go to a full-blown strike action.

In an attempt to portray workers as anarchists and unruly, the City decided to remotely deactivate municipal trucks which led to traffic congestion in and around Durban. This was a well calculated move by the City to set up workers against the community in which they live and work in.

When taps run dry in the City, residents should ask the City why they have not been met legitimate demands of workers. When there are no lifeguards, no traffic officers, no refuse removal, residents should ask the City why instead of having constructive talks with workers they resort to sending police to use live ammunition to kill workers in an attempt to silence and intimidate workers.

We are saddened and in mourning, workers have been shot at for demanding fair labour practices, a worker has been killed for demanding rightful treatment. We send our heartfelt condolences to the family and colleagues of the deceased, we will be making arrangements to hold a memorial for our fallen.

If the City really cares about the lives of their employees, they would ensure that this worker did not die in vain, they would ensure that these issues are resolved immediately instead of sending police to use live ammunition.

We will be approaching the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) to immediately investigate the circumstances leading to police using live ammunition on unarmed and non-striking workers.

We will also be communicating in due course arrangements of a memorial and funeral services of our fallen comrade after consultation with the family.

May the spirit of our fallen rest in revolutionary peace.

Issued by SAMWU Secretariat

Koena Ramotlou
General Secretary
073 254 9394


Papikie Mohale
National Media Officer
073 710 0356