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Violent labor strikes expand to South Africa farms


Farmers spray water as they try and save around 18,000 empty fruit containers from burning after being set alight by farm workers in Wolseley, South Africa, on Nov. 14. Violent protests by farm workers have erupted in South Africa after weeks of unrest in the country's mining industry. The workers have been protesting their wages, saying they want a minimum wage of $17 a day. Currently, workers make about half that amount a day.


South African Police arrest farm workers after they went on a rampage in Wolseley, South Africa,on Nov. 14.

AP reports -- Down a two-lane road, where slag heaps tower and miners' shack homes crowd against each other, the labor unrest now gripping South Africa first caught fire.

Mining companies here outside of Rustenburg, a city about 100 kilometers (60 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, saw workers walk off the job and continue to demand higher wages, even after violence during six weeks of strikes and a mass police shooting at one mine killed 46 people. The strikes recently spread to agriculture, South Africa's other major economic engine, as day laborers burned farms and fought with police Wednesday in violence that left at least one person dead and five others injured.

The unrest has shaken South Africa, a nation now free from apartheid-era laws, but not of its legacy of economic disparities between whites and blacks. And though the grip of the strikes appear to have loosened, the damage done to South Africa's anemic economy could last even longer.

Wednesday, their protest turned violent as workers set fire to some farms, overturned a police truck and confronted officers in riot gear in the country's Western Cape. The police fired tear gas to drive away protesters, as the sounds of gunshots could be heard in local television footage.

One man was killed in the violence "as a result of police action," police Lt. Col. Andre Traut told the South African Press Association. At least five other people were injured.

Read the full story.

Rodger Bosch / AFP - Getty Images

Members of the South African Police Services run after some people, during a farmworkers strike, on Nov. 14, in Wolesley, about north of Cape Town, South Africa. South African police on Wednesday said one person was killed and five others injured as protests by farm workers demanding higher pay descended into violence, prompting calls for the military to be deployed. A week-long protest by farm workers spilled over into bloodshed with chilling echoes of recent mining unrest that has claimed more than 50 lives. "We can confirm the death of a 28-year-old man in Wolseley and five others wounded," Lybey Swartz of the Western Cape police told AFP.


The remainder of 18,000 empty fruit containers after they were set alight by farm workers in Wolseley, South Africa, on Nov. 14.


A South African Police truck that was overturned by farm workers after they went on a rampage in Wolseley, South Africa, on Nov. 14.

Rodger Bosch / AFP - Getty Images

Fruit bins burn at a packing store on Nov. 14, in Wolesley, South Africa. The fire, which burnt more than 15,000 wooden bins is thought to be connected to the farm workers strike.

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