Several employees of plastics bottle manufacturer Mpact had their cars set alight by unknown people at its plant in Wadeville on Monday, IOL reported. The factory itself reportedly also suffered damage.
The company is currently embroiled in a wage dispute with workers affiliated with the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa).
General manager Kallie Albertse told IOL there were no major injuries and no material damage to the production plant and equipment.
A video posted on Facebook by Caron Levin Meyerowitz shows firefighters attempting to put out several burning vehicles in the company’s staff parking lot.
“We were attacked at Mpact Wadeville today,” Meyerowitz wrote.
“The attackers were not related to our staff that were recently on strike. We believe these were a group of criminals taking advantage of the recent strike and are attacking anywhere that is involved with plastics.
“I am alright, I was hit by a rock but it was very close to being a lot worse.
“One other person sustained minor injuries but also managed to escape.
“Each car had its windows broken and contents stolen before being torched. The few cars that were not torched were badly damaged. My car did not survive. Our security was not equipped to handle this type of attack. As far as I know, shots were fired by police which drove the attackers away.”
According to Meyerowitz, Mpact will have counselling on site for the next few days and are in the process of getting affected staff rental cars.
Last week security guard Lesley Lekgalake Mphahlele died after he was doused with petrol and set alight by violent protesters at Makulu Plastics and Packaging in Kempton Park, the Citizen reported.
According to the paper, the Plastics Converters Association (PCASA) put the blame for the violence on Numsa due to a strike the union called for. Numsa reportedly said it could not be held responsible.
The two-month-long strike in the plastic sector has seen many instances of violence and damage to property.
In November, striking workers, believed to be employed in the plastics industry, attacked Ampa Plastics Group in Elandsfontein, smashing windows, stealing computers and attacking the managing director, Trevor Zulberg, News24 reported.
Zulberg said bricks were used to attack both him and his parrot. The parrot was killed.
He added that the attackers – who he claimed were affiliated to Numsa – also tried to set the factory alight. However, they extinguished the flames.
“There must have been around a hundred guys. They came in and started destroying everything in their way, poured petrol in some parts of the factory and set it alight,” he said.
Zulberg said his company and employees whose vehicles were targeted, incurred damages amounting to hundreds of thousands of rands.
Numsa has rejected the allegations levelled against its members.
“Those who make such claims do so without any proof to back it up. We urge anyone claiming to have information on criminal activity to open a case at [the SA Police Service] because it is their job to investigate such incidents and to bring the alleged perpetrators to justice,” Numsa’s spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said when approached for comment.
Industrial areas that have been affected by the violence and intimidation during the strike include Isando, Spartan, Jet Park, Sebenza and Wadeville. In October, a factory in Ladybrand in the Free State, was burned down by striking workers, according to ANA.