Municipal staff fighting a lonely battle

2014-01-20 00:00

SAFETY of municipal employees is being compromised by of lack of funds.

That’s the opinion of the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) after a lone municipal employee was shot and wounded by armed robbers while evaluating properties in Raisethorpe on Friday.

Zethembe Msomi (27) was shot in the leg on the Old Greytown Road when he was accosted by three unknown men, who held him up with a firearm and robbed him of an iPad valued at approximately R10 000. Msomi was taken to hospital.

The three suspects fled on foot into the Khan Road informal settlement and were arrested shortly afterwards by police from Mountain Rise and Pietermaritzburg Flying Squad.

The police recovered the iPad, a 9 mm unlicensed pistol and ammunition believed to have been used in the armed robbery.

The suspects were detained at Mountain Rise police station and will appear in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court today.

Samwu local secretary Thulani Dube said yesterday lack of money was affecting the safety of municipal workers’ jobs in many ways — from departments being short-staffed and short of equipment to the condition of vehicles they had to use.

“There are a lot of accidents, but safety is not a priority for our council. As a union we’ve brought up all these things, but nothing’s being done. We have a programme and policies, but they are not implemented because of the shortage of funds.”

Approached for comment, Msunduzi municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi rejected the suggestion that the municipality neglects employee safety.

“The policy says that if an employee is going into an area that is known to be risky they are entitled to a municipal escort. But you can’t anticipate a crime like that.”

He said after the recent death of municipal electrician Ntandoyenkosi Mgwili, who died after an explosion at a substation, the municipality has been looking at ways to ensure the health and safety of all its employees.

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