Report: Union bodyguards punch members

Johannesburg - Samwu leaders' bodyguards punched, pepper sprayed, and shot at union members at the Johannesburg office to stop them entering the building, the Star reported on Thursday.

"We came to work this morning [Wednesday] and were forced out of the building. I was manhandled by three of them and pepper sprayed," Gauteng deputy secretary Nomfezo Mdingi said.

The Star reported that the SA Municipal Workers' Union national office-bearers (NOBs) announced this week more members believed to be sowing division in the union would be suspended.

About 40 members and leaders had already been suspended.

A group calling itself Save Our Samwu (SOS) was demanding a forensic audit to prove that R136m - that allegedly went missing from its coffers because of "dodgy dealings" - was misappropriated, according to the report.

Mdingi said on Tuesday they were asked for duplicate keys to their offices.

"This is what they intended to do all along. This is a deliberate act. They hired people to come and assault us," she was quoted as saying.

"The NOB's are accountable for those missing millions."

Samwu general secretary Walter Theledi said Mdingi was expelled but SOS interdicted the union from carrying out expulsions. The case would be heard in the South Gauteng High Court on 15 September.

He said he was at the office and unaware of the fight.

"They were not here to deal with internal union matters. They came to harass. It is unacceptable behaviour."