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South African police arrest 50 in farm protest


February 20. 2013 1:24AM
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(AP) Striking farm workers on Wednesday set up barricades and threw stones at motorists and police in a South African province whose vineyards are vital to the wine industry, prompting riot officers to close roads and arrest at least 50 demonstrators, South African media reported.


Labor unrest was reported in several areas of Western Cape province, where similar protests last year also turned violent, resulting in at least two deaths.


Footage on eNCA television showed debris in flames on a rock-strewn highway, and the smashed window of a police vehicle. Security forces in helmets patrolled the area. Police Lt. Col. Andre Traut said police had arrested about 50 people, according to the South African Press Association.


The protesters had sought to block roads in a campaign for higher wages and to prevent other farmhands from going to work. They want their daily wages to be more than doubled to 150 South African rand ($17.5).


South Africa is a major wine producer. In addition to grape-harvesting, workers involved in the protests work on apple and other fruit farms.


The country's mining industry was also shaken by labor unrest last year. Some of those protests turned violent, culminating in the shooting deaths of several dozen miners by police at a platinum mine.


Associated Press


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