MATATIELE Local Municipality staff members were turned away from work as local grass-cutters from the small town of Cedarville locked them out of their offices on Wednesday. The local grass-cutters demanded that the municipality give them jobs cutting grass in their own towns, townships and farm areas. They are claiming that the municipality is hiring foreign companies to do these jobs.When the Fever arrived at the scene on Wednesday morning, municipal gates were locked and municipal office staff and cleaners were stranded outside the gates while grass-cutters stood next to the main gate. There were two police vans and a ward councillor a few metres away from the group of angry grass-cutters who were demanding answers from the municipality.One of the local grass-cutters in the area, Allois Duma, said the municipality had promised them a three-year contract, only to discover that a company which was not from that area was cutting the grass in August.“We stopped the company from doing its work and demanded that the municipality hire local companies. In September, we saw another company cutting grass in the area and we had to stop it,” he said, adding that several letters have been written to the municipality about the issue, but they were rejected. “We bought machines to cut grass in efforts to fight unemployment and poverty, now the municipality is sidelining local people from receiving employment. Cutting grass is our ‘bread and butter’ and the municipality must give us work,” said another grass-cutter, Nkosiphendule Klaas.Another local grass-cutter, Nompucuko Taua, said she has been cutting grass for households in the area and had applied several times for a tender for cutting grass, but it was in vain. “I want to stop selling liquor and focus on getting tenders for cutting grass, but the municipality is rejecting local companies,” she said. Ward committee member Thobeka Mgilane said municipal services of issuing of proof of residence, payment of municipal rates, and other services were disrupted.Matatiele Local Municipality mayor Momelezi Mbedla has denied claims made by local grass-cutters that they were promised a three-year contract. He said that in February they were asked to cut grass and were compensated. “Most of them (grass-cutters) do not have registered companies and it is illegal to close municipal offices,” he said.