'We worked, so we deserve to be paid': Gauteng Covid-19 'youth brigades' still waiting for salaries

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The Gauteng education dept has not paid thousands of workers.
The Gauteng education dept has not paid thousands of workers.
Matthew Horwood/Getty Images
  • Some employed as "youth brigades" by the Gauteng education department to assist schools with Covid-19 protocols have not been paid.
  • The department promised to pay them by Friday.
  • They claimed the validation of banking details caused the delay.


Tebogo Ndalambi had a bleak festive season. Instead of celebrating the holidays with his family, someone to whom he owed money confiscated his TV and DVD player to pay off debt.

Ndalambi is one of the 10 000 youth brigade members hired by the Gauteng education department to assist schools with adhering to Covid-19 safety protocols. While they have done their work, some like Ndalambi, have not been paid. 

He was stationed at Brakpan High School in Ekurhuleni from July. He has not received a salary since October.

When he didn't receive his October salary, he went to a loan shark and borrowed R800. He was unable to pay it back and, with interest, his debt rose to more than R2 000,  leading to the loan shark selling his property. He said:

"I told him when my payday was and, when I could not pay, he kept on adding interest. It’s very hard because I have to take care for my family. My mother is unemployed and my father earns an old age pension. December was very hard. We had no food in the house."

"When I first started working, I was paid on time, but some of my colleagues were complaining about nonpayment. After a few months, the department said they would move us to a Persal system and that's when things went haywire. [I] and the two other people I work with at Brakpan have not been paid from October."

ALSO READ | Gauteng pupil placements: Dept working hard to still place 10 000 pupils in grades 1 and 8 - Lesufi

Ndalambi is owed R9 500. When he started, he was paid R3 000 and he signed a new contract as a teaching assistant in December, raising his salary to R3 500.  

Backpay

"One of my colleagues was not paid in June, but received money for the other months. So they owe him the June backpay. The department asked us to send them our contracts, timesheets and banking details but we still don't have money.

"Every week, we are told about a new payment date but, when that day comes, we hear more excuses. Sometimes when you are referred to a department official, the moment you mention the money owed to you, they block you. We worked, so we deserve to be paid."

Gauteng education department spokesperson Steve Mabona blamed validation of banking details for the delay in payments.

"We have not failed to pay, accordingly the majority were paid. The payment will be on 8 January, which will accommodate those who were not paid. The problem was the validation of banking details."

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