There is tension in Cape Town after a pay protest march by 5,000 striking security guards affiliated to the South Africa Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) on 16 May degenerated into violence. Protesters set fire to cars, looted shops and seized goods from street vendors, according to local news reports. Police intervened with tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse the crowds. Thirty nine people including two union leaders, Tony Ehrenreigh, provincial secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), and Evan Abrahams of SATAWU, were arrested in connection with the violence. The city council subsequently withdrew its permission for another march on 18 May amid fears of further unrest.
Unions began their strike in March over wage demands. Most subsequently agreed to a rise of 8.3 per cent, while SATAWU is continuing to demand 11 per cent. Workers in South Africas booming security industry typically work long hours in dangerous conditions and for poor wages.