The Farmers’ Strike in Langrug


For the past month, farm workers throughout South Africa have been protesting against their employers for higher wages. Though the protesting has been apparent in the surrounding area, it appeared that the community of Langrug had been relatively unaffected. When salary negotiations fell through between the workers and the farms, a country-wide workers strike was set to take place on the fourth of December.


WPI Langrug Team, Khungeka, Zodwa, strikers


04/12/2012 – Road in Franschhoek leading towards Langrug


Early Tuesday morning, our group climbed into the van and headed towards Langrug as usual. The lumber for the walls and roof was scheduled to arrive and we planned to spend the day framing the building. We were all excited that the building process was finally moving forward. When our van turned onto the street to Langrug, we were greeted by a scene of chaos.  Police cars lined the rubble-strewn street and an angry crowd of community members gathered at the first corner. As we continued up the hill, we drove past a smashed wall and a dead dog lying in a pool of blood. As we approached the crowd, Khungeka and Zodwa ran towards our van and urged us to stop. They seemed to be very agitated and insisted that we turn back as the strikers were harassing anyone attempting to work in Langrug. They explained that the situation near the build site was worse and that they did not know how long it would last. We hastily turned around, called Scott and Bob, and drove back to Stellenbosch.


The strike could not have come at a more inconvenient time for our project. With the last week of work just starting, everything seemed to be falling into place. All the important materials had been ordered and the construction team was highly motivated. Then we lost several days of work and were completely thrown off schedule. While this is quite frustrating, it may have some positive effects.  If we cannot work in Langrug, then the community must take a more critical role in the construction. We hope this will increase the community’s a sense of ownership even if we cannot see the facility completed.