Suspected National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa) members allegedly targeted a plastic company destroying 10 vehicles belonging to a granite company in a case of mistaken identity.
It’s believed that about a 100 members of the union stormed a business park in Olifantsfontein which houses three companies targeting Meg Packs, a plastic factory.
Armed with petrol bombs; rocks; sticks and iron bars, they allegedly petrol bombed Meg Packs offices but the fire was quickly contained.
They also went to a communal parking lot and started smashing vehicles and allegedly stole everything inside the vehicles. One of the cars was also petrol bombed.
By the end of it, 10 cars were destroyed but only one of them belonged to a Meg Packs employee. The rest of the destroyed vehicles belonged to Tectonic Stones which manufactures granite for kitchen tops.
Owner of Tectonic Stones believes that Meg Pack employees knew what was coming because only a few them were at work on that day and only one vehicle belonging to a Meg Pack employee was damaged. Tracy Gammage said that makes her believe that they knew what was coming hence they did not go to work that day.
“We had nothing to do with that strike and my employees lost cars that they had worked hard for, destroyed in an act of criminality and brutality,” he said.
Gammage said they were at work when the mob arrived around 4 pm on Wednesday afternoon. She said while there are three businesses in the office block, they all use a communal parking lot.
She believes that due to the continuing strike in the plastic sector, the mob was targeting Meg Packs, a packaging company. She said they could not even take pictures of the mob as they were hiding, scared of rocks that were flying around.
Gammage also believes that the workers who destroyed the vehicles they belonged to Meg Packs staff.
This was confirmed by someone close to Meg Pack who said it was their company that was being targeted because it is in the plastics sector. However, he said, they did not know that the mob would destroy vehicles and even try and burn offices.
The man, who declined to give his name said the mob was just a rent a crowd that was going on wreaking havoc, attacking people and destroying property.
“They came here and wrecked the place up and even tipped cars over,” he said.
He bemoaned the lack of government intervention in the saga, saying the ongoing Numsa strike in the plastic sector was characterised by lawlessness and violence but that even the police were not doing anything.
One of the people, whose car was petrol bombed said the reality of what happened was only setting in now.
Barnaby Ramokhabi, a 43-year-old father from Kempton Park said he could not do anything as the vehicle he had worked hard for went up in flames. In addition to that, it was not yet insured.
Ramokhabi, a granite installer for Tectonic Stones said he had spent the past 10 years saving for his car. He bought it an auction last week for R150 000. He said he then spent a further R20 000 to fix it to ensure that everything was working and that it was road worthy.
“I only got it back on Friday and changed ownership on Monday. I was supposed to get it insured the day after it was burnt.
“As a divorcee, things have been bad and now I have to start from the scratch,” he said.
Ramokhabi said not only was his car petrol bombed but a few items inside like it’s radio and his son’s laptop were stolen.
“The car is fixable but where can I get the money from? Anyway, fixing it would be so expensive that it would be better to get a new one.
“Since my car burnt, I can’t work…I can’t operate. We were not even part of the strike,” the heartbroken man said.
The Star tried to get a response from Numsa’s Irvin Jim and spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola but their phones rang unanswered.
Gammage said they had just spent R30 000 to hire armed security guards at the premises.