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'We have nothing to lose' - Union adamant it will stop Durban July despite organiser's assurance

Preparations are under way at Greyville Racecourse for the Durban July on Saturday.
Preparations are under way at Greyville Racecourse for the Durban July on Saturday.
Image: Jackie Clausen

Workers' union Academic and Professional Staff Association (Apsa) says it "fears nothing" in its plans to disrupt the Vodacom Durban July.

In a statement, Apsa said its disruption of the Vodacom offices in Midrand, Gauteng, on Thursday, where its members blocked the entrance and exit to the brand's head office, was just a taste of what would happen at the horseracing event on Saturday.

The decision to disrupt the July, according to Apsa, comes after retrenchment negotiations between the organisation and Phumelela Gaming and Leisure fell through. The company is expected to retrench hundreds of workers.

The two parties had met to discuss the issues, a meeting Apsa said was “a mockery and insult to workers”.

The threat to disrupt the prestigious KZN event came amidst reassurances by official organiser Gold Circle that the event would go ahead as planned.

Apsa secretary-general Professor Boitumelo Senokoane said: “We will give an answer tomorrow. People have decided to test us and we are ready for the challenge. We have nothing to lose. We are not investors in this, we are not shareholders ... we are there to make sure that the mandate and demands of workers are met.”

Despite Gold Circle and Phumelela saying the latter had nothing to do with the Durban July, Apsa said it was adamant on interfering with the July because "some of the horses that will be at the race come from Phumelela-owned racecourses outside of the province".

“The biggest beneficiary and participant in the Durban July is Phumelela. They are the biggest player,” insisted Senokoane.

Gold Circle's Michel Nairac said they had not received any communication from Apsa and did not understand what Phumelela’s employee disputes had to do with them.

“It’s strange, because it's like the employees of Ster Kinekor going to close down Nu Metro. We are two different companies and they have issues with Phumelela," said Nairac.

Meanwhile, police said they would be on high alert ahead of the event. 

"A pro-active approach, which resulted in successful events previously, has been adopted for this event. SAPS officers and personnel will be in and around both areas of events, as well as around Durban to tackle the problems which might disrupt the events. The racecourse gates will be opened from 10am and there will be other parallel events which will be monitored by police until next morning," said SAPS spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala.

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