Video: Pepper spray, threats, as traffic officers go on strike

A traffic officer covers his nose to avoid inhaling the pepper spray his colleagues unleashed on members of the public during an impromptu strike by the officials.

The traffic officers forced residents out of the municipal buildings, and those who didn’t want to budge, were pepper sprayed into submission.

Traffic officers were stunned by the Middelburg Observer’s arrival, and the paper followed their trail of mayhem from the licencing offices, to the acting municipal manager Mr Mandla Mnguni’s office, where they were met with closed doors.

From there the procession marched to the mayor’s boardroom where a media briefing was underway.

Radio and print media journalists were stunned to such an extent that the majority remained fixed in their seats, even after the officers left.

Realizing that neither Mayor Mike Masina, nor the administrative head Mr Mnguni, was present to remedy to their grievances, the officers left the boardroom in an orderly fashion.

A canister of pepper spray was however again discharged on the way out, at the second floor of the municipality where the Mayor’s offices are located.

Heaving municipal officials scurried for fresh air with eyes watering and nostrils flaring.

The procession of traffic officers returned to the licencing officer where all members of the public, some having waited two hours to be helped, were ordered out of the building.

The entire licencing department was placed on lockdown by the protesting officers who told agitated members of the public to go to eMalahleni to sort their licencing problems.

“The public can speed and cause accidents, we will not be there to assist,” one of the officers told the Middelburg Observer who obtained exclusive video footage of the incident from the very start of the protest.

The incident was fueled by a letter from Mr Mnguni, responding to a number of demands from traffic officials like higher salaries, training opportunities and danger and standby allowances, which was not to the officer’s satisfaction.

• Read a more in depth report on the chaos which ensued in Friday’s edition.

Gerhard Rheeder

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