WATCH | Four arrested at Canal Walk after Dis-Chem strike turns violent
Four people were arrested following an unruly protest outside the Dis-Chem at Canal Walk shopping centre in Cape Town on Wednesday afternoon.
Videos of the incident doing the rounds on social media show a large group of protesters being pushed back by law enforcement officers carrying shields and batons.
A few seconds later, a man picks up what looks like a shopping basket and throws it at one of the officers, hitting him on the head.
Dis-Chem employees affiliated to the National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers (Nupsaw) went on strike on November 16. They declared Wednesday “Dis-Chem D-Day” and vowed to picket at stores around the country.
Canal Walk spokesperson Vanessa Herbst said what happened at the Cape Town mall was not a "sanctioned protest".
She said law enforcement arrived at the scene and requested protesters to leave. "While most left peacefully, there were a number of protesters that resisted moving but were escorted from the premises. The remaining crowd was dispersed.
"This was done in line with the appropriate South African Police Service safety and security protocols."
Herbst said the safety and security of customers and tenants were "of utmost importance" to them.
The centre was fully operational and open for trading soon after the altercation.
Police spokesperson FC van Wyk said the four men - aged 31, 34, 41 and 16 - were arrested during the protest. The men face charges of contravening a court interdict, public violence, malicious damage to property and assault. They will appear in the Cape Town magistrate's court soon.
Earlier this week, the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) pledged its support for the striking Dis-Chem workers, whose demands include higher wages and an annual bonus.
“Saftu is calling on all its members and all workers to demonstrate their solidarity on that D-day with a nationwide protest," the union said in a statement.
Workers claimed that the company's turnover increased in the 2018 financial year from R17.3bn to R19.6bn and there were plans to open 20 new stores in the 2019 financial year. The chain employs about 13,500.
Saftu said talks between Nupsaw and Dis-Chem were deadlocked.
Nupsaw members are demanding a minimum wage of R12,500 across the board, an increase of 12.5% for those who earn above R12,500, a guaranteed annual bonus and a review of the bonus policy.