Angry workers protest

2012-10-17 00:00

MORE than 500 council workers congregated outside the uMhlathuze offices yesterday in protest against senior management.

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) members demanded the reinstatement of officials implicated in a city housing scandal.

The gathering, which saw Richards Bay police quickly descend on the local municipal complex, culminated in the delivery of a memorandum to speaker, Mvuseni Mnqayi.

Samwu regional secretary Pamella Makoba said they wanted the reinstatement of two council employees implicated in a forensic investigation into a housing scandal involving the city’s hostels and low-cost housing developments.

During 2011, the city instituted an investigation undertaken by Durban-based Nxumalo & Co.

The company was hired to probe allegations that housing beneficiaries were bribing municipal officials to jump the queue or receive more than one home.

Administration officer Sphiwe Thusi and chief housing clerk David Luthuli were suspended late last year.

Makhoba said, however, the pair should be reinstated as they had won their disciplinary hearings.

“We are seeking fairness from the council. We decided to hand over the memorandum to force the council to act and re-employ Thusi and Luthuli,” said Mkhize, denying the gathering was illegal.

She said though Thusi and Luthtuli had won their initial disciplinary hearing earlier this year, they were still not back at work.

“The council has repeatedly appealed the disciplinary’s finding and now the council is terminating their employment. This is not fair. It seems low-level municipal workers are treated differently to senior staff,” said Makhoba.

The memorandum handed to the council demanded that Luthuli and Thusi be reinstated; the council charge the official who repeatedly appealed Thusi’s and Luthuli’s disciplinary hearing; and that mayor, Elphas Mbatha, stop interfering in council administration processes.

The memorandum also demanded safety clothing for all ground staff; more equipment in various departments; new pool vehicles to transport staff and the termination of a disciplinary process against a union shop steward. The council was asked to respond in seven working days.

Municipal spokesperson Vukile Mathabela said they were still looking at the memorandum and would not comment.

But he added that the council could look at whether the protest was illegal and if any action should be taken.

Police spokesperson Captain Mbongeni Mdlalose called the protest “peaceful and without incident”.

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