– Lia Snijman. Above: Rubbish has been dumped and burned in front of Cloetesville Primary. Photo: Niklas Willemse.

Refuse removal has been halted in Stellenbosch on 30 July after refuse removers that were hired from a private company were intimidated and threatened with violence by municipal workers protesting their lack of salary increase.

Stellenbosch Municipality hired a private company to take care of refuse removal as their own workers were on strike because they did not receive salary increases for this year.

Beltana solid waste drop-off depot on the Helshoogte road was one of the places where the refuse removal workers faced intimidation. See our video below with footage taken at the scene.

Rubbish was dumped in front of Cloetesville Primary. Photo: Niklas Willemse.

Rubbish was dumped in front of Cloetesville Primary. Photo: Niklas Willemse.

Stuart Grobbelaar, Stellenbosch Municipality spokesperson, said: “A group of workers at the Beltana depot are still refusing to work as they are aggrieved about not receiving a salary increase. Some workers have also started participating in illegal actions such as sabotage and the destruction of property. We condemn these acts in the strongest possible terms, will take appropriate disciplinary action against anyone found guilty of destroying municipal property and call on the SAPS to arrest any person who breaks the law. The municipality is urgently obtaining an interdict to prevent these individuals from further destroying any property. A shutdown notice has also been distributed – locking down the depot with immediate effect.”

Stellenbosch Municipality tweeted at about 12:30: “Due to intimidation and threats of violence, refuse removal has been suspended for the rest of the day. The safety of workers and residents as well as the safeguarding of assets are the top priorities. Areas will be serviced once it is safe for trucks to operate.”

Earlier in the day, rubbish was dumped in front of Cloetesville Primary. Niklas Willemse, a resident of Cloetesville, said that he believes the driver was threatened and that’s what caused him to dump the rubbish there. He said that children and other members of the community set fire to some of the rubbish.

“Due to threats of violence by illegal protesters, we have immediately suspended waste collection services in the Cloetesville area for today. The area will be serviced once it is safe for trucks to operate,” tweeted the Stellenbosch Municipality late this morning.
Grobbelaar said that the municipality will work into the weekend on Saturday and Sunday if necessary to make sure that all areas are serviced.

He said the following about the wage increases: “The 3-year salary and wage agreement concluded in 2018 provides for a 6.25% increase for the 2020/21 financial year, which started on 1 July 2020. Given the economic situation in the country and the impact of the COVID pandemic on all local governments across the country, the municipality submitted an exemption application in terms of the collective agreement. In the collective agreement the dispute resolution mechanism provides for any of the parties to the agreement to apply for exemption in a situation where unforeseen circumstances happen. Whilst this is still being negotiated between SALGA and the SALGBC at a national level, National Treasury has recommended that no increases be paid until the negotiations are finalised.”