JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Striking farm workers on Wednesday set up barricades and threw stones at motorists and police in a South African province whose vineyards are vital to the wine industry, prompting riot officers to close roads and arrest at least 50 demonstrators, South African media reported.
Labor unrest was reported in several areas of Western Cape province, where similar protests last year also turned violent, resulting in at least two deaths.
Footage on eNCA television showed debris in flames on a rock-strewn highway, and the smashed window of a police vehicle. Security forces in helmets patrolled the area. Police Lt. Col. Andre Traut said police had arrested about 50 people, according to the South African Press Association.
The protesters had sought to block roads in a campaign for higher wages and to prevent other farmhands from going to work. They want their daily wages to be more than doubled to 150 South African rand ($17.5).
South Africa is a major wine producer. In addition to grape-harvesting, workers involved in the protests work on apple and other fruit farms.
The country's mining industry was also shaken by labor unrest last year. Some of those protests turned violent, culminating in the shooting deaths of several dozen miners by police at a platinum mine.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
To comment, the following rules must be followed:
Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content, but the station is under no legal obligation to do so.
If you believe a comment violates the above rules, please use the Flagging Tool to alert a Moderator.
Flagging does not guarantee removal.
Multiple violations may result in account suspension.
Decisions to suspend or unsuspend accounts are made by Station Moderators.
Questions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please provide detailed information.