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  • I am not at work today. Strangely enough, in spite of always wishing for a day off, this time around it does not fill me with any pleasure. When I got to work this morning, the entrance gates to the business complex were chained up under lock and key – well, just a padlock, no key in sight! The Western Cape (WC) has had riots all week – mainly the rural farming communities. Encouraged in part by violent strikes in the mining sector, hundreds of seasonal workers went on the rampage in the last week, blockading roads with rocks and setting vineyards and warehouses ablaze. The workers are unhappy about their salaries – a valid point I might add. Yet there is no method in their madness. A farmer was stoned to death. They SAY their gripe is with the farmers, yet they have marched through several towns and after torching and stoning totally unrelated shops and businesses, they have left mayhem and destruction in their wake. In spite of the Acting Labour Minister’s appeal to the farm workers to give them a chance to attend to their demands,” they still went on a rampage and the National road past the town had to be closed down due to burning tires and angry mobs.

    Interesting to know is that most of the rioters are not local farm workers, but has been bussed in from other places. They are mainly black people, where the local workers are brown. Yet, one needs to say very little to get any labourer totally worked up in a frenzy. And they are very open to any form of suggestion…

    My personal opinion is that the ANC government cannot stand that the Western Cape is under DA-rule (Google them if you don’t understand the difference – it is huge). In the WC: Almost no “gravy trains” for the ministers – they must use ordinary vehicles from the service pool, no large luxury sedans, no 1st class accommodation or flights, no bribing is tolerated and corruption is severely dealt with. … BUT … more is done for the previously disadvantaged people than any where else in the country. Running water, schools (the ones they have not burnt down), electricity, roads are good without being taxed to death like Gauteng and the crime rate is lower than other parts of the country etc etc.

    Something to add (way out of context, but where the hell do I fit it??):
    Coming from a farming back ground, I see (daily) how my family struggles to make ends meet. Farming is unforgiving and not cheap! The risks are high and unfortunately the return on investment is dependent on factors out of their control:
    Droughts (last year),
    Flooding (this year),
    Unstable markets (for a few years now),
    Competition (all the time) and
    Cost of labour (rising every year, although the income does not).
    One of the farmers just had 30 hectares (over 60 acres) of export grapes burnt to the ground – how does he EVER recover from that?

    Yet I understand that the farm workers need more money. It is a known fact that the rural WC has the highest rate of alcoholism in the country. This is due to some farmers partly “paying” labourers with liquor during the Apartheid years. It is a problem today and although apartheid has been put to rest more than 25 years ago (and this “payment method” was banned), we must still take responsibility for the situation. One way is the strict liquor laws, like no selling of liquor after 4 on a Saturday (and Sunday of course). WHO must carry this responsibility? I don’t have the answer, but I do know that a lot of the improved salary might end up buying more booze.

    Wait, I am rambling and this is getting too long! What I wanted to say was that I am sitting at home, wondering how much damage they might have caused to our business. On that stretch, we are one of only a few businesses so close to the road. As I stood in front of the locked gates this morning, I worriedly looked at our bakkie (pick-up) and cement mixers through the (skimpy) fence. They were not indoors, less than a stone throw – literally – away and in the way of the mob I watched descending down on my town first thing this morning. Things are not going well with our business, and insurance won’t cover any form of damage caused by rioting. Will we survive this one? Will there be too much damage by tomorrow that we might as well close the doors?
    Or will they peacefully have walked past us, but smashed in the poor Chinaman’s little shop down the road? Also someone who had nothing to do with their salary dispute. Also someone who can help in no way but loose his shop due to their mob-mentality … Also someone who does not deserve it …
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