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GUNSHOTS, TEARGAS FIRED AT WORKERS

image AT WORK: Textile workers. This picture does suggest that the workers cited in the story are the ones in the picture.

POLICE had to fire several warning shots in the air when close to 3 000 workers at Zheng Yong Garment factory went berserk and threatened to kill security guards.

 

 

The management later resolved sending all the workers home after things went out of control yesterday. It all started on Wednesday when the guards Linkup Security Company were engaged in a serious confrontation which almost led to lives lost. 

It was late in the afternoon when one of the workers was assaulted heavily by the guards, something angered the other workers who then retaliated by throwing everything that they laid their hands on. 

The premises were turned into a battle zone. 

This happened shortly before the workers left for their homes after work on Wednesday. 

With the situation getting out of control as the worker who had been assaulted by the guards was lying near the gate and blood oozing through the nostrils and ears, the workers realised how their colleague was injured and that was when they jumped for the throats of the security and hell broke lose afterwards. 

With the situation out of control and management also fearing something worse could follow they then called police who in a blink of an eye arrived and found a total mess and chaotic confrontation.  It was then that gunshots were heard which saw another stampede as the workers ran in different directions. The situation was calmed and workers were already preparing to board transport to their respective homes. However, yesterday the workers resolved to deal with the security guards as they had made it known the previous day that their presence would not be tolerated following what they had done to their colleagues. 

It is said the workers reported for work as normal but only worked for five hours. 

After having their break for lunch,  the ‘war’ resumed when the security guards were attacked and given the taste of their own medicine as they were punched, slapped and trampled on.

The confrontation, it is said, occurred after a meeting where it was resolved that the security guards should be thrown out as the way they were conducting their work was putting the workers in serious danger. 

With a resolution taken, it is said there was total chaos after lunch as almost the entire workforce in unison agreed that a strategy to eject the security was to attack them at once. 

It is said workers who were preparing to resume work found themselves with no option but to join the ‘impi’ which even went as far as ‘fishing’ out some of the security guards who were still resting in their houses. 

Others (security guards) found themselves jumping off their beds and stormed out only wearing their underwear and were not sure what was happening. 

The uncompromising workers were chanting and singing slogans as they raided every corner of the premises with the sole purpose of getting rid of any security guard on sight. 

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Yesterday’s episode forced management to send home all the close to 3 000 workers after seeing that the volatile situation had all the potential of causing serious damage to the company property as well as loss of life. 

It is said police rushed to the company and found things in total mess again and this time, they were also almost assaulted by the workers who were in no compromising mood. With the workers toyi-toying and chanting slogans, it is said police who were armed and carrying shields, they found themselves outnumbered by the angry workers and realising the danger that was posed by the situation, that was when they started firing teargas with the purpose of dispersing the crowd as some of the workers were determined to make sure they succeed in getting rid of all the security guards. Police are said to have found themselves ducking missiles and other objects some which were being thrown at the security guards. The situation calmed down moments later but the management advised the workers to leave and return to work today.

Found manning the gates were Asian nationals who said they were ‘taking over’ the duties of security on temporary basis until the situation normalises.

Meanwhile, workers are said to have vowed that they were not going to allow the security guards from the said company to come back as should that happen, another chaos will take place and this time, serious damages to property and also to human life should not be ruled out. It remains to be seen whether the workers demand, that of getting rid of the security guards is to be met. 

On the other hand, Human Resources Manager at Zheng Yong Peter Mkhwanazi said he was not comfortable to comment much on the matter given its sensitivity. He said it was a matter between the management and the security company. 

“It is a sensitive issue which I am not comfortable to talk about to the media. What I can say is that police are now involved and it’s a matter given the attention it deserves even by the management,” said Mkhwanazi who cooperated during the interview last night.

Police Information and Communications Officer Assistant Khulani Mamba confirmed that police were called to calm the situation at Zheng Yong after a clash between workers and security guards erupted.

“What we have been told is that it started after one of the workers got assaulted and this led to the other workers going wild and attacked the guards. It all started yesterday (Wednesday) and today things worsened when the workers continued where they had left off as they wanted all the guards ejected from the premises. 

“We are still investigating and our wish is to see the parties concerned sorting out things harmoniously and to see operations not affected,” said Mamba.

 

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