Fruit bins burn at a packing store in Wolesley, during the farmworkers' protest. (Rodger Bosch, AFP)
Cape Town - Farmers whose workers are on an illegal strike across the Western Cape should be allowed to decide on the most appropriate action against them, Agri SA said on Friday.
"Lawlessness and criminal activities cannot be tolerated and the culprits must be held accountable via normal prosecution processes," Agri SA labour committee chairperson Anton Rabe said.
Employers should decide on what to do with striking workers, as the protest was not protected under the Labour Relations Act.
"Agri SA has also not agreed that no disciplinary action should be taken against striking workers and agitators."
Protesters looted shops and set buildings alight in Swellendam in the Hex River Valley in the Western Cape, police said on Friday.
"We have received reports of unrest and torching of businesses, but the situation is under control," Western Cape police spokesperson Lt-Gen Andre Traut said.
He said police officers were monitoring the situation.
According to news reports on Friday morning, roads in the area, including the N2, had been blockaded with rocks and burning tyres. eNews Channel Africa (eNCA) reported that shops were being set alight, protesters looted a bottle store and a butchery was torched in Swellendam on Thursday night and Friday morning.
Rabe welcomed discussions aimed at bringing the strike to an end.
"We are committed to constructive discussions that will ensure the profitability and sustainability of commercial agriculture in the long term."
He said interested parties had to work together to restore business confidence and peace of mind so the country's image could be restored.
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