The Independent Municipal and Allied Trade (IMATU) is dismayed to learn of an altercation between protesters and police that landed some IMATU members in hospital and others needing treatment for shock.

“Members from our Matlosana Branch reported a very disturbing incident that took place at the municipal offices this morning. From what we understand protesters stormed the building just before 9am. Municipal employees realised that something was wrong when scuffles broke out between protesters and security guards inside the building. The violence intensified when the police arrived on the scene shortly thereafter. I believe rubber bullets were fired and because protesters had breached the building’s security some of our members were caught up in the altercations between protesters and police. I have confirmation that members had to be taken to hospital and numerous employees treated for shock,” stated IMATU North West Regional Manager, Paul Greyling.

This incident is one of many examples highlighting the escalation of violent protests around South Africa. IMATU shop stewards confirmed that their members are routinely threatened and intimidated while trying to perform their duties. Municipal meetings have been disrupted, buildings occupied and municipal officials taken hostage. As recently as two weeks ago external parties disrupted a scheduled local labour forum meeting in Matlosana, demanding recognition and making proceedings impossible to run.

While the motivation behind this morning’s protest still needs to be clarified, IMATU shop stewards believe the grievances relate to corruption, lack of resources, broader service delivery needs and job vacancies.

“Municipalities are responsible for providing the community with basic services however, a number of these services fall outside the scope of local government or require collaborative efforts across all three tiers of government. It is becoming more common for protesters to direct their frustration at municipal buildings and infrastructure to express their dissatisfaction, irrespective of the origin of the problem or whether this falls under the ambit of the municipality in question,” explained Greyling.

IMATU calls on the Matlosana Municipal Mayor to immediately address this situation and ensure that its members are provided with a safe and secure working environment.“IMATU will be requesting an urgent meeting with the Office of the Municipal Mayor in order to establish a satisfactory way forward that ensures the safety of our members. Members cannot return to a volatile work place where their safety is not guaranteed,” concluded Greyling.