A South African trade union federation representing more than two million workers says it will strike after a farm worker was killed and eaten by lions, according to local media.
“This is the fourth case in the North West where workers have been killed by lions and at the end no one has been arrested,” Solly Phetoe, North West secretary for the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), told The Times based in Johannesburg.
“Enough is enough. In 2008, COSATU is intensifying our campaign to protect farm workers with a full-blown strike against government.”
Samuel Boosen, a 36-year-old caretaker at Aloe Ridge Game Lodge & Lion Park at Swartruggens, about 150 kilometres west of Johannesburg, went into the lion enclosure to feed the animals before being attacked on Tuesday.
“He went into the cage … [about] nine lions then attacked and ate him up until the only parts that remained were the skull and spine,” police spokesman Superintendent Lesego Metsi said.
“It happened in full view of two witnesses.”
He said it was unclear why Mr. Boosen, who had worked at the picturesque lodge for four years, had gone into the enclosure, since he usually fed the lions by placing meat through the fence. Police did not suspect foul play.
The park covers 1,500 hectares, according to tourism Web sites, and breeds lions, cheetahs, Bengal tigers and spotted hyena.
The union has been vehemently demanding action to protect farm workers and their families from dangerous animals after a boy was killed by lions on a farm in the town of Vryburg in June last year.
“The funeral was only for the scalp. They couldn’t find anything else,” Mr. Phetoe told the BBC’s Focus on Africa program.
At COSATU’s request, the Department of Agriculture agreed to put down the 10 lions that attacked the boy; but it is unclear if the cull was carried out.
Last April, a game reserve owner was eaten by a pride of lions at his farm near Johannesburg, after reportedly suffering a stroke and falling out of his vehicle.
The union has asked the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) to reopen all cases involving farm workers who were killed by lions and see to it that owners are arrested and prosecuted.
“We are calling on the NDPP to defend the poor, the working class and the rest of the community from being killed by lions in the North West province,” Mr. Phetoe said yesterday.
National Post, with files from news services