• Picture: HALDEN KROG

  • AFTERMATH: A police van lies destroyed in the main street of Wolseley, near Ceres, on Wednesday after protesting farm workers went on the rampage. Picture: HALDEN KROG

  • Picture: HALDEN KROG

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MOST farm workers in the Western Cape stayed away from work again on Thursday as trade union organisations went about relaying the message of the deal struck on Wednesday with the government, to revise minimum wages within two weeks.

De Doorns, Robertson and Wolseley, where a protester was shot dead by police on Wednesday, remained tense, said Nic Clelland, an official in the office of Western Cape Premier Helen Zille.

The provincial disaster management centre said it remained on "high alert".

"Areas still under threat include Swellendam, Paarl, Broodkraal, Bergrivier, De Doorns and Bonnievale," a spokesperson said.

However, some workers had decided to return to work, Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich said, although it would take some before the message reached everyone.

In terms of Wednesday’s deal, the government will report back on progress on a new minimum wage within two weeks.

"As workers realise that little will change within the next two weeks, they are likely to return to work," Mr Ehrenreich said.

Protests over Swellendam council

However, unrelated fresh civil disobedience broke out in Swellendam on Thursday morning, with African National Congress (ANC) activists shutting down the N2 and access to the town, and closing all schools. The protest relates to a dispute over control of the municipality, over which there has been a long, ongoing dispute between the ANC and the Democratic Alliance (DA).

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that the DA has legitimate control over the town council, which the ANC claims it governs. In October the ANC claimed it had convened a legitimate council meeting at which the DA mayor was fired and an African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) representative, who supports the ANC, appointed.

Barrydale ratepayer Ross Devenish said the situation in the town had been untenable since the last election in 2011. While the DA and the only ACDP member had governed the council, ANC members had paralysed the council by failing to attend meetings. At some point, the ACDP representative had switched sides to vote with the ANC, precipitating the battle for control, which ended in the DA’s court victory this week.