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Bishop warns of agricultural “uprising” over low wages: The Church of England Newspaper, December 2, 2012 p 6. December 7, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper.
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The Bishop of False Bay has called upon government to respond quickly to the “uprising” in the Breede Valley of South Africa’s Western Cape, saying that unless the root causes of the violence are addressed more lives will be lost. Labour unrest was but “another example of the ticking time bomb of poverty and unemployment in our province,” Bishop Merwyn Castle said on 16 Nov 2012.

The South African press reports that police have closed roads into the valley, while farmers have blocked the roads into the town of Ceres to prevent labour activists from Cape Town joining the strike. Grape harvesters in the Hex River Valley had been protesting for over a week about their wages, demanding their wages be doubled to R150 a day.

Farm workers have set tires alight, staged protest marches and clashed with police.  On 13 Nov 2012 police fired rubber bullets at a group of 70 farm workers after they began throwing stones at the police lines.

In a letter to the premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille, Bishop Merwyn Castle of the Anglican Diocese of False Bay said that “unless the underlying causes [of recent uprisings in the Breede Valley] are comprehensively dealt with, the anger and resentment may result in more bitterness and the loss of more lives.”

“People have for too long in our agricultural communities been oppressed by the situation of unemployment and poverty,” the bishop said, urging the government to step in to prevent further violence.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

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