WATCH: Apparent 'sewage water' leaks onto Sun City staff's food

2016-12-30 14:01

Johannesburg - Staff at holiday resort Sun City claim that damaged pipes have resulted in sewage-contaminated water leaking onto food that they are given to eat.

Irate workers have accused Sun International of ignoring several complaints by its own managers who did personal inspections of the basement; as well as ignoring a previous report condemning the storage area as a health hazard, and an internal safety report and video showing the leaks, which allegedly contained sewage. 

Sun International has denied that any food was contaminated at the resort and says staff unhappy about management changes are behind the allegations, but admits that there was a "grey water" leak. Grey water is a by-product of water that is used for cleaning. 

It commissioned an expert study based on the claims, which it said proved that the video showing alleged sewage, in fact showed grey water.

Sun International said photographs submitted by staff were also deliberately misleading - these were not taken in the affected area and were captioned incorrectly.

The commissioned report, dated Friday and based on an inspection by “MEP Project Manager," the main contractor for “Sun Central Project,” said an existing drain pipe was identified as a grey water pipe.

“Dirt marks on wall also seem to come from a prior leak/spillage as there is evidence of repairs having been executed,” it said.

The report said a fresh water line, connected directly to the main water supply line, started leaking at a 90 degree bend in early December and a temporary drain pan was installed.

Sun International reiterated that no food was contaminated and that no employee reported being ill to the on-site clinic.

WARNING: Video contains strong language

But an inspection by the Bojanala district municipality’s health district on December 13 confirmed that the basement had been affected by leaking sewage from overhead pipes between November and December 9.

It found that there were manholes on the premises and that the room was not ventilated for food storage, raising a health hazard in the event of a sewage malfunction.

The report states that the "pipes that were said to be of concern were sealed with an unidentified material".

A report compiled by concerned staff, who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of victimisation, said that the basement had been used for maintenance last year before it was abandoned because of a "continuous flood of sewage blockage".

Aikona

The document titled Aikona, which was penned in November, claims that the group executive of the resort, Raul de Lima, and his assistant, Neil Smollen, had insisted that food be moved to the condemned basement, despite "outcries and objections from numerous parties not to proceed".

It said that staff were given food stored in a room that was contaminated with disease, deadly bacteria, germs, filth and an unbearable stench, and that nine senior managers had expressed concern.

It also shows graphic pictures of "poo on the wall", splashes of alleged sewage on cold drinks, food products like maize meal stored beneath the sewer lines, and manholes that "don’t seal properly". 

"The venue has a history of... manholes overflow[ing]. Blockages occur because solids regularly find way into the sewer system via floor drains from... restaurant outlets and fat overflowing from the grease trap," the document by the employees reads.

The staff members allege that mildew and flaky walls in the area were given a quick paint so that it could be used before the start of the Nedbank Golf Challenge (NGC) in November. 

"De Lima and Smollen insisted/persisted to proceed with their brainchild strategy/project by issuing instructions that the... basement area must be operational as food store as matter of priority, i.e before NGC'16. This was despite outcries and objections from numerous parties (experts in their field) not to proceed," the document states. 

Alarm bells

Sun International group general manager Michael Farr said the food products that were also in the room at the time were destroyed.

"Our service provider had taken appropriate steps to identify and isolate sealed packaged stock which had been dripped on with grey water as a precautionary measure – No water had penetrated any seals or packaging, this stock although not contaminated was destroyed and was not used in the preparation of staff meals."

He said: "It is important to note, in the context of the ill-informed and misleading allegations made by the unidentified staff members mentioned, that recent staff and management changes at Sun City have led to disgruntlement among affected employees."

Email correspondence between managers at Sun City suggests that alarm bells were raised on more than one occasion. In the emails dated December 5, the subject matter is "Concerns in our storage area again".

"This area remains a serious food safety concern, as again we are working with waste water on the floors and dripping from the ceiling," one of the unit managers said in the email.

It further states that plumbers were called in and the job required that overhead pipes be opened to clear blockages.

"However, this resulted in more waste water on the floors and, in some cases, on stock items.

"This problem is sure to re-occur and potentially overnight which may result in large quantities of contaminated stock items, which will be not only inconvenient and unpleasant to clean up but will result in stock losses and potential delays in producing meals for staff," the email reads.

Read more on:    sun international  |  mahikeng

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