Angry crowd mobs official over unpaid salaries

2012-12-21 00:00

IN September, Agriculture MEC Meshack Radebe launched a programme to create 28 000 temporary jobs to benefit rural people.

Hundreds of the employees have not been paid for months.

Some of the people working under the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) last received a pay cheque in October; others have never been paid at all.

A crowd of about 300 men and women who were employed in the job creation drive vented their anger outside Loop Street Police station.

They had gone there to get answers from a department official. They angrily confronted the official outside the Absa branch on Langalibalele Street, and the police had to rescue him.

They said their supervisors had told them to go to Absa where they would be given their pay cheques.

But that never happened, and a number of contradicting explanations led to tensions boiling over, said one of the workers, Lindelani Mafu.

“We arrived at Absa and were told that our names were not on the list of those who were to be paid,” Mafu told The Witness yesterday.

The list was meant to be submitted by the Independent Development Trust (IDT), which was responsible for their salaries.

Mafu said they were told two different stories.

Their project managers told them that the list had arrived and they would receive their money as soon as it had been signed over by the bank manager, who was on leave until January.

However, Mafu said, an official in the bank told them the list had not arrived, and when it did, it wouldn’t need to be signed by a bank manager and they would get their salaries.

The Agriculture Department official who was there to address them was surrounded and confronted by the angry workers.

“The MEC said a month won’t go by without us being paid. We have been working for three months and we have never been paid,” said Mafu

“They haven’t told us when we will be paid.”

The department official told The Witness the workers were supposed to be paid before Christmas. The department had hired IDT to pay them, but there were problems that led to them not getting their salaries.

“There are talks going on to get their salaries to them,” he said.

IDT’s Sizwe Zulu said the department would be the one to comment on the salaries.

Department spokesperson Jeffrey Zikhali said they were trying to sort out the matter.

“If they have not been paid by tomorrow, then we will have an urgent meeting with IDT,” he said.

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