PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma has called on newly appointed National Police Commissioner Bheki Cele and the leadership of the police service to arrest striking union members if they trash South Africa's cities.
"No one is allowed, when striking, to commit acts of violence," Zuma said.
"Ababoshwe (arrest them), they must get arrested because they are interfering with the rights of other citizens. No one has the right to interfere with another person's rights. So violence and trashing are not allowed."
Zuma was addressing the media at the Presidential Guest House in Pretoria after announcing Cele 's appointment yesterday.
He said while members of the South African Municipal Workers' Union were allowed to protest for better wages, this right did not extend to include undermining the rights of other citizens.
His comment comes after members of the 150000-strong Samwu trashed the central business districts of Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban during their wage-hike marches in the past three days.
Zuma's call comes after the conduct by the workers was widely condemned, with the ANC calling on Cosatu to take responsibility for its striking members' conduct.
Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said yesterday the labour federation supported Zuma's call and believed "the law must take its course".
Craven said union members knew the federation's regulations on how to conduct themselves during a strike.
Samwu spokesperson Dumisani Langa also said the union leadership supported Zuma's call.
"We don't promote any form of threat against ordinary citizens or any form of violence and vandalism to public property," Langa said.