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ELM Strikers attack Youth Cadets volunteers

During the most recent parts of the protracted Emakhazeni Local Municipality (ELM) municipal workers strike, the Youth Cadets – based in Waterval Boven and under the command of ex SADF Major, Walter da Costa – performed invaluable community service throughout the ELM municipal area. They guarded pump stations and waterworks. They collected and removed tons of refuse that had been strewn everywhere. They unblocked roads. In fact, these young men did just about everything in their power to ease the effects of the strike on many ELM residents. On Saturdays, on Sundays, at all hours – on their own initiative and at their own cost. And the thanks they received? They were viciously assaulted, without warning and without provocation, by striking workers. And the police just sat and watched.

In an interview with THG, Maj. da Costa explained what happened: “We had noticed, on a number of occasions when we were cleaning up different areas, that we were being watched,” da Costa said. “Because we were not there to confront the strikers or make the situation any worse than it already was, we did nothing. However, when one morning we arrived early in Belfast and began cleaning the streets around the Belfast municipal offices, things were different,” da Costa went on to say. “Without warning, what we presumed to be a group of strikers approached us and began shouting and swearing at us. We re-assured them that we had nothing against them and that we were just there to clean up. As the situation was becoming ugly,” da Costa said, “we decided to leave and then return later when things had calmed down a bit.”

da Costa went on to relate how, on their later return, how things got truly ugly. “Strikers began pelting us with stones and a number of cadets were assaulted with sticks. Despite, in self-defense, scattering one group of attackers using some of our dogs, another, larger, group started coming up behind us and I realised that we needed to leave quickly,” he said. “By this time, a number of us, including myself, were bleeding quite badly from head wounds. As we tried to escape in my vehicle under a hail of rocks, I noticed that a number of Mafoko private security guards, in bullet-proof vests and fully armed, were guarding some municipal premises. They just stood there and watched as we were attacked. They didn’t lift a finger!” Maj. Da Costa related further how, as they were trying to extricate themselves from a growing number of attackers, they saw a Belfast SAPS patrol vehicle approaching and immediately drove towards them for protection. “They did absolutely nothing!” he said. “our attackers just passed by on either side of the police van and continued attacking us. The two officers in the van did not say a word – they did not even get out of the van – even though they could see our vehicle had been extensively damaged and that a number of us were injured.”

In the aftermath of this vicious attack, Maj. Da Costa and his cadets have laid criminal charges against their attackers – and he has also recently been informed that their attackers (obviously known to the SAPS) have laid counter charges of assault against Maj. da Costa and his cadets. This, despite the fact that numerous witnesses can attest to the fact that the cadets were apparently victims of an unprovoked attack and that, even, in self defense, their use of dogs merely scattered some of their attackers – without inflicting a single bite. Despite the criminal nature of this incident, the obvious implications are even more serious. Armed security guards (albeit private), as well as armed SAPS officers, are prepared to stand idly by and merely observe whilst violent strikers go on the rampage and assault private citizens. Never mind the labour chaos in a dysfunctional municipality on the verge of implosion, the “rule of law” that is supposed to be upheld and enforced by the SAPS has proved to be nothing more than empty words. Violent strikers and indeed, criminals of all types have now got the message loud and clear: In Emakhazeni, you can do what you like. Nothing will happen to you.

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