Councillor bodyguards go on strike

Johannesburg - Striking bodyguards employed by Sharks Protection Services have refused to protect eThekwini councillors, demanding better wages.

They have demanded that management deal with their grievances.

A bodyguard, who has been working for Sharks Protection Services for three years, said, “There are 27 councillors and each councillor has four bodyguards. We are not happy because we are being paid a pittance in comparison to what the company claims from the municipality.”

The eThekwini Municipality spends R36m annually on security.

“We only get paid R10 000 per month.”

He claimed that when they got to their offices, management refused to speak to them and instead called the police.

“It is not fair because we often find ourselves performing personal duties and working well over normal office hours.”

The bodyguards are demanding a standard wage of R25 000 each.

“There are no promotions and they are quick to dismiss you without a warning,” he alleged.

Another bodyguard who also asked to remain anonymous said: “This is not life. Life is expensive but wages remain the same.

“Another problem is that when something goes wrong with the vehicle, the money to fix the vehicle is taken from our salaries.

“The company pays R24 710 to hire 27 vehicles each month. If a taxi bumps into you, it is your fault and that is not fair,” he said.

Another bodyguard claimed he never got time to spend with his family.

“I work six days a week and only get two days off. Last year we got a R1 000 raise and this year it was R600.”

The bodyguard, from Umlazi, said he was struggling to support his two households.

“I have five children and two wives. Children need food and clothes and it is December now and I cannot spoil them.”

Sharks Protection Services manager Patrick Gamane downplayed the strike. “I didn’t see any strike,” he said.

“I cannot disclose our plan of action… It was business as usual on Tuesday, I don’t know what you are talking about."

EThekwini Municipality spokesperson Tozi Mthethwa said the metro spent R36 749 307 on security annually.

"For obvious safety reasons the municipality is not in a position to discuss the number of councillors being protected or the number of guards per councillor,” said Mthethwa.

She would not be drawn to discuss the details of the contract between the city and the company.

DA leader in KwaZulu-Natal Zwakele Mncwango in a statement said the city should establish an internal VIP unit.

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