Riot police break up World Cup pay protest

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The Independent Online

Armed riot police charged into hundreds of stewards at a World Cup stadium early today to break up a protest about low wages.

Police appeared to set off two percussive grenades, causing loud bangs, to drive the protesters out of a car park under the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, hours after Germany beat Australia 4-0 in Group D.

There was no immediate word of any injuries or arrests at the protest.

Reporters saw about 30 riot police charge into the crowd to drive protesters out of the stadium. While calm quickly returned, some of the security stewards, wearing orange and green jackets, continued milling around outside.

A photographer said police fired tear gas at protesters outside the stadium. A nearby street was littered with rubbish where the protesters were forced away.

Police were called after hundreds of angry stewards gathered to complain about their wages.

"We left our homes at seven in the morning and now it is nearly one o'clock," said Vincent Mkize.

"In the dry run, they didn't want to tell us how much we would get."

Rich Mkhondo, head of communications for the local World Cup organising committee, said the protest did not affect security at the match or any spectators.

"Two hours after the end of the first match at the Durban stadium last night, there was an internal pay dispute between the principal security company employed by the organising committee and some of the static security stewards employed by the company at the match," he said .

"Police were called on to disperse the protesting stewards. This happened, however, long after all spectators had left the stadium after the match and the incident had no impact whatsoever on the match day security operations.

"The organising committee will engage with its stadium security provider to avoid a repeat of the situation during the course of the tournament."

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