There were reports of intimidation in Ekhuruleni on Wednesday, as people were stopped and forced to join the Congress of South African Trade Unions’ (Cosatu) march against labour brokerage and e-tolling.
Ekurhuleni Metro police’s Wilfred Kgasago said school transport was stopped by people believed to be going to the Cosatu march.
“We have received reports of intimidation from a number of areas, but the public order policing unit have been sent out to monitor those areas.
“We also have a confirmed report of intimidation from Natalspruit hospital.”
Metrorail's Thembela Khulu said commuters were intimidated at the Leralla station in Kempton Park.
“We are going to suspend the service on the Leralla-Daveton line because the striking workers are assaulting commuters."
“They are also destroying property and stoning our staff vehicles. Our drivers are scared to travel.”
Protesters have starting gathering in the Johannesburg Central Business District (CBD) in preparation to march against the use of labour brokers and e-tolls on Wednesday.
One protester said, “I am here to march against the labour brokers because in 2011 we went on strike to make sure that the labour process must be banned.”
As tens of thousands of people prepare to march, traffic officials and police are expected to be out in full force, ensuring safety and security.
Demonstrators are expected to gather at Beyers Naude Square from 9am on Wednesday.
An hour later, the supporters head towards Braamfontein where they will hand over a memorandum to the Department of Labour.
The Johannesburg Metro Police’s Edna Momonyane said the protesters will then hand over a second memorandum to the Gauteng government.
From there, the march proceeds to the Chamber of Mines and the Department of Finance before the protesters disperse for the day.
Officials said they were ready to deal with the large crowds expected.
Meanwhile, Cape Town city bosses have increased security at major public transport interchanges.
Thousands of workers are expected to start marching through the streets of the Mother City at 11am on Wednesday.
Marchers will hand over a memorandum at the Civic Centre and Parliament.
Mayoral Committee member Demetri Qually said there will be rolling road closures in the city until 2pm.
“Traffic officers will be on duty to assist residents to plan alternative routes if possible.”
Meanwhile, Cosatu’s Western Cape secretary Tony Ehrenreich said all systems were in place for the march.
“We expect about 30,000 people to participate in the march in Cape Town because the issues are much broader. A number of organisations have pledged their support.”
Qually adds contingency measures are in place if municipal services will be affected.
“We ask residents who usually put out their bins on Wednesday to take them back if there are not collected by 9am.”
The Automobile Association (AA) said it supported Cosatu's nationwide strike.
The AA was very vocal over the controversial e-tolling system, one of the issues Cosatu is protesting against.
From April motorists will pay 30 cents per km to use some of the provinces major highways.
The AA's Gary Ronald said they believe the system is unreasonable, “We have continued with our protest by handing out our freebie ‘no toll’ sticker campaign.”
“We do support the Cosatu action, but It’s just a pity that it is linked to another labour issue.”
The public servants association, the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) and teachers’ union South African Democratic Teachers' Union (SADTU) are expected to join the action.
Taxi drivers have however said they will continue operating as normal.
Cosatu's Zingiswa Losi said, “We are calling on all South Africans, even those that are unemployed or unorganised to join us on the issue of the labour brokering because it affects even those that are unemployed.
“When they do join the labour market, it must be under a protected environment.”
Cosatu General Secretary Zwelenzima Vavi said Wednesday’s mass action will be repeated and escalated if government refused to reconsider e-tolling and the use of labour brokers.
He said e-tolling would result in blatant economic discrimination against the poor and further burden consumers who already struggle with basic necessities.
“On April 1 we will see an increase in electricity prices by 25 percent which will be difficult for poor people.”