I had a run in with a striking mob of black municipal workers in the streets of my hometown today. The mess that was left behind was a disgrace, rubbish bags torn and rubbish scattered everywhere. It just showed me once again how radically different the cultures in South Africa were. As a white, I just didn't get it, although I still had to live with it.
Scores of striking municipal workers were arrested in Empangeni, a South African Municipal Workers' Union spokesperson said on Monday afternoon.
"It has been reported to me that scores of members have been arrested. Three vans were full of our members who were arrested for taking part in a protest," said South African Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) secretary Jaycee Ncanana.
Empangeni police spokesperson Captain Tienkie van Vuuren was not available to explain why they were arrested.
Ncanana said the union's lawyers were trying to have the workers released.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has claimed that most KwaZulu-Natal municipal workers stayed away from work on Monday morning.
"We are happy with the number of people who did not go to work today (Monday)," said Cosatu's KwaZulu-Natal secretary Zet Luzipho.
"In some areas, 90 percent of municipal workers did not go to work," he said.
Samwu and Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) members went on strike on Monday after rejecting an 11.5 percent wage increase offer.
Major cities around the country were expected to be worst affected.
Addressing journalists in Durban on Monday, Luzipho said Cosatu supported all industrial action by its affiliated unions. Samwu and Imatu represent 90 percent of municipal workers.
By noon, there was no sign of striking municipal workers in Durban's CBD. Ncanana said workers had gathered outside the municipal offices in Springfield.
Ethekwini metro police spokesperson Superintendent Joyce Khuzwayo said officers would keep an eye on the situation.
Police spokesperson Superintendent Henry Budhram said no vandalism or intimidation had been reported by noon.
Luzipho called on striking workers not to vandalise property.
"Law enforcement agencies must also resist the temptation of being used as strike-breakers, but rather [should] ensure that parties conduct themselves in a fair manner."
The strikes were not aimed at undermining President Jacob Zuma's administration, but were genuine demands for better pay.
"The employers must not shift the blame. This is not about Zuma and his administration. We fully support Zuma." - Sapa