news shutterstockIn our roundup of weekend news, see
summaries of our selection of South African
labour-related stories that appeared since
Friday, 3 September 2021.


COVID PANDEMIC AND VACCINATION ROLLOUT

Implementation of mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations is a delicate balance, Ramaphosa cautions

TimesLIVE reports that according to President Cyril Ramaphosa, workers have a right to decline Covid-19 vaccinations on medical and constitutional grounds, but employers equally have a right to protect employees and ensure efficient operation of their businesses. The implementation of mandatory vaccinations must be based on mutual respect and constitutional rights in what Ramaphosa described in the National Assembly on Friday as “quite a delicate balance that needs to be struck”. This was in response to ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe‚ who wanted to know what measures government was planning to put in place to protect workers from being forced to be vaccinated by their employers. The president said: “No-one should be forced to be vaccinated. Instead we need to use the available scientific evidence to encourage people to be vaccinated to protect themselves and the people around them.   At the same time‚ our occupational‚ health and safety laws require that we ensure a safe working environment.   This situation poses challenges for employers who want to keep their workers safe from Covid-19‚ while respecting the rights of those who don’t want to be vaccinated.” Ramaphosa said employers needed to determine the category of employers to be vaccinated‚ taking into account vulnerabilities due to age and comorbidities. “Employees may refuse vaccination on medical or constitutional grounds. In such instances‚ the employer should counsel the employee‚ and if requested‚ allow them to seek guidance from a health and safety representative‚ trade union official and a health practitioner.   If necessary‚ steps should be taken to responsibly accommodate the employee in a position that does not require the employee to be vaccinated. It could range from either the employee continues to work from home‚ without being in contact other employees or customers/clients‚ or work from a place where they don’t interact with others and spread the virus‚” Ramaphosa explained.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Nonkululeko Njilo at BusinessLive. Read too, Employees can refuse vaccination, but rights have limits, says Ramaphosa, at Fin24

Cosatu says Discovery allowing only jabbed people into its buildings is destructive

EWN reports that Cosatu says that Discovery’s decision to only grant access to its buildings to vaccinated people will create unnecessary problems and distractions for everyone in the labour market. The trade union federation fears that other intransigent bosses could use this decision as a basis for abusive practices in the workplace. Discovery announced on Thursday that from January next year, it will implement mandatory vaccination, with exceptions only allowed in reasonable and justifiable circumstances. Cosatu’s parliamentary coordinator Matthew Parks said Discovery’s announcement might be compliant with the directive issued by Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi in June about vaccination in the workplace, but it was still destructive. Discovery, which is the second company to implement the policy in SA after Curro, said it had a responsibility in accordance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act to protect its employees, including protection from exposure to potential biological hazards, including Covid-19. While Cosatu said it would engage with the company at the National Economic Development and Labour Council, trade union Solidarity has already indicated it was on standby for when workers were dismissed for not being vaccinated.

Read the original of the report in the above regard by Theto Mahlakoana at EWN

Saptu demands to be included in policy discussions over mandatory Covid jabs at institutions of higher learning

EWN reports that the SA Parastatal and Tertiary Institutions Union (Saptu) has demanded to be included in policy discussions over mandatory vaccinations at places of higher learning. The union indicated that its primary purpose was to protect job security. Saptu said some institutions had recently confirmed that they were considering mandatory jabs for staff and students. These included the University of Johannesburg and Stellenbosch University, where the union has members. It said a policy which went against the bill of rights should never be forced: “Management cannot on its own make decisions; you have to look at the work environment, the job security and how policy implementations are going to affect employees. Some of our members don’t subscribe to the idea that they must be vaccinated.”

Read the original of the short report in the above regard by Nobuhle Nkhoma at EWN

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • As of Sunday, 5,931 new Covid-19 cases, 76 more deaths reported, at The Citizen
  • Lockdown level 3 may soon be eased as cases decline, Joe Phaahla says, at BusinessLive
  • Health department says 16% of SA’s adult population vaccinated against Covid, at EWN
  • Ramaphosa warns against vaccine hesitancy, at Independent Media


OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY

Labour department slaps Coega Steel with prohibition notice after furnace explosion not reported

Fin24 reports that the Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) has placed a prohibition notice on Coega Steel, following a furnace explosion that it failed to report. This followed an anonymous tip-off, which included pictures of a Ceoga Steel employee with burns on the employee’s hands and face. The incident allegedly happened on 22 August, during a night shift. "The life-threatening incident, which left employees traumatised, revealed that a total of five employees were injured on the day. All these employees sustained multiple burns all over their bodies from face, neck, chest, head, hands [and] ankles due to the explosion," the DEL said in a statement. After finding that Coega Steel had not complied with health and safety regulations, the DEL's inspectors gave the company a prohibition notice, ordering it to halt production at its furnace department where the explosion had happened. Apart from failing to report the incident and starting operations immediately after it happened, the DEL said Coega Steel had not taken steps to ensure there was no re-occurrence of a similar explosion. The DEL’s Eastern Cape head of department, Nomfundo Douw-Jack, said investigations into the explosion were being conducted.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Penelope Mashego at Fin24

Police officers slain in the line of duty commemorated on Sunday

EWN reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday joined families of slain police officers at the annual South African Police Service (SAPS) Commemoration Day. This year's event commemorated members of the SAPS who lost their lives in the line of duty between 1 April 2020 and March 2021. Speaking at the memorial site at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, Police Minister Bheki Cele said it was heart breaking to see officers being killed while fighting crime. “The reality is, to us, the pain goes beyond the numbers. It cuts deep when we see an empty desk in the workplace, when we see a reduced number of members of parade, when we see police stations with severe shortage of members,” he stated.

Read the original of the short report in the above regard by Sifiso Zulu at EWN. Read too, Saps Commemoration Day: SA mourns slain police officers, at The Citizen

Firearm stolen from slain KZN police sergeant was used in killing of two Mtubatuba traffic officers

News24 reports that Police Minister Bheki Cele said on Saturday that a gun stolen from slain KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) police sergeant Nkosinathi Ngcobo was used in the shooting and killing of two Mtubatuba traffic officers who were murdered while on duty on Monday. Cele was speaking at the funeral in Kempton Park of of Sergeant Sharon Mogale, who was shot and killed while inside a Tembisa retail shop. The suspects stole her service pistol as well as that of her colleague. One person has been taken in for questioning.   Cele advised that two persons had been arrested in connection with the killing of Ngcobo. The accused, while out on parole, had embarked on a killing spree of law enforcement officers in KwaZulu-Natal, and stealing their firearms.   "They killed two security officers and didn't find firearms, they then killed Sergeant Ngcobo and took his firearm, they killed two traffic officers and disarmed them... in a space of four days," Cele said. Ngcobo was shot and killed while driving in his police vehicle in the Nyanda area last week. His service pistol, wallet and cellphone were stolen by the killers. In Mtubatuba, traffic officers Sizwe Sithole and Mxolisi Lamula were ambushed and killed inside their official car while doing routine patrols on Monday. The killers fired a hail of bullets at them and then stole their firearms. The two traffic officers died on the scene.   Another officer, Sergeant Pumlani Dastile, was buried on Friday in the Eastern Cape. Dastile, who was attached to the Eastern Cape provincial organised crime unit, was shot and killed last week by two gunmen in Zwelitsha while following up on information about a business robbery.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Getrude Makhafola at News24

Sunday marked third anniversary of deadly Bank of Lisbon fire, report on investigations still awaited

Independent Media reports that Sunday marked the third anniversary since three City of Johannesburg firefighters died in an inferno that broke out at the Gauteng Health Department’s Bank of Lisbon building in September 2018. But, the Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) Gauteng health spokesperson, Jack Bloom, says that there has been no accountability for this tragedy, and little information has been given to the grieving families. Gauteng Premier David Makhura has promised to give a consolidated report at the end of this month of all the investigations into this fire.   No satisfactory answer has been given for the delay in releasing the findings of the investigations that have been conducted by the SA Police Service, the City of Joburg, the provincial government and the Department of Labour. Bloom commented: “I suspect that senior ANC politicians could face criminal charges as a result of the fire, as well as officials who were negligent in preventing it.   Immediately after the fire I laid criminal charges of culpable homicide against the then Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa and Infrastructure Development MEC Jacob Mamabolo for negligence in not setting up a functioning Occupational Health and Safety Committee for the building, and for ignoring multiple warnings from unions and staff about the fire hazard.” Bloom said the DA would hold Makhura to his undertaking that the reports would be made public at the end of this month and would push for full accountability, including criminal charges where warranted.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Baldwin Ndaba at Independent Media

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Two arrested in connection with whistleblower Babita Deokaran’s murder have been released, at News24
  • JMPD outraged by R500 bail for fitness trainer who violently attacked an officer, at News24
  • Opinion: Overhaul the law to protect whistleblowers, at Mail & Guardian


LABOUR AND POLITICS

Cosatu slams ANC’s failure to register candidates for municipal elections, says 'levels of incompetence are staggering'

TimesLIVE reports that trade union federation Cosatu says it will work hard to regain the trust of workers and voters who are furious at endless government failures ahead of the upcoming local government elections. Speaking at the ANC’s National Executive Council two-day lekgotla, the federation cast doubt on the ruling party’s ability to redeem itself after failing to register candidates in many municipalities for the upcoming polls:   “The levels of incompetence are staggering. The elections are in weeks and yet we have not even begun to campaign. We do not have a manifesto, have not launched a single advert, nor begun to canvass. It is clear from our failure to register candidates that our organisation is in a serious crisis.” With many of SA’s municipalities on the brink of collapse, and also failing to pay workers on time, Cosatu said the ANC had placed it in a difficult position.   It also slammed the ruling party’s failure to pay ANC staff for two months and holding back pension contributions for several years, saying if the party hoped to survive or win the elections, the issues needed to be tackled immediately.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Nonkululeko Njilo at TimesLIVE


SALARY PAYMENTS

Sadtu says Northern Cape teacher assistants and cleaners not paid for three months

News24 reports that the Northern Cape Department of Education is working on resolving the issue of teacher assistants and general workers not having been paid for three months. According to the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu), substitute and temporary teachers as well as screeners and cleaners were the ones most affected. The department said reasons for the delays were due to pressures the sector was experiencing amid the Covid-19 pandemic. It added the need for cleaners and screeners at schools remained critical long after their initial period of employment, which resulted in the department having to reprioritise its budget. The Presidential Youth Employment Initiative that catered for the assistants ended earlier this year and the department took a decision to take over and pay them from its own budget. The workers were deployed to schools to ensure Covid-19 safety protocols were followed. Northern Cape education department spokesperson Geoffrey van der Merwe said another matter which impacted the department was the number of teachers who needed to be substituted or replaced, and in other cases, where temporary teachers were needed.   He said the department had engaged the provincial treasury on the matter and the latter had released funds for it to fill posts and pay outstanding salaries. He indicated that the affected staff members would be paid soon.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Sesona Ngqakamba at News24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Former spy boss Bob Mhlanga cleared of salary double-dipping, at City Press (subscriber access only)


FAKE QUALIFICATIONS

Free State woman arrested for allegedly applying for police post with fake matric certificate

News24 reports that a Free State woman has been arrested for allegedly applying for a post in the police service with a fake matric certificate. Mathabo Margaret van Heerden, 38, was arrested and appeared in the Ficksburg Magistrate's Court on Friday, facing charges of fraud and uttering.   "Her arrest stems from the incident which took place on Friday, 25 September 2020, where Van Heerden submitted a fraudulent matric certificate for a constable position at the South African Police Service," said Hawks spokesperson Captain Christopher Singo. Van Heerden was released on a warning and is expected back in court on 6 September.

Read the original of the short report in the above regard by Lwandile Bhengu at News24


SUSPENSIONS

Joburg’s City Power suspends CEO Mongezi Ntsokolo

TimesLIVE reports that City Power has confirmed the suspension of its CEO Mongezi Ntsokolo. Isaac Mangena, spokesperson for the City of Johannesburg’s power utility, advised that the decision to suspend Ntsokolo was taken last week and supported by shareholders. “This is pending an investigation by group forensics into allegations against him that were brought to the attention of the board relating to his previous employment at Eskom,” Mangena indicated. The allegations allegedly relate to maladministration and corruption.   Mangena said Ntsokolo had welcomed the probe as he hoped it would resolve concerns raised by the allegations.   “The CEO is not fired. [He] is not guilty until proven otherwise, and he is co-operative towards this process we are taking and also wants the clouds around him to be cleared so that he can focus on the core work of running the institution. The suspension is to enable the board to conduct a free and fair investigation without any interference. The board takes the issues raised seriously,” said Mangena.

Read full original of the report in the above regard by Naledi Shange at TimesLIVE


WORKPLACE CORRUPTION / FRAUD

Bushbuckridge municipal employee guilty of fraud of more than R93,000 sentenced to 12 month’s house arrest

News24 reports that a Mpumalanga municipal employee has been sentenced to 12 months' house arrest and a five-year suspended sentence in a fraud case at the Bushbuckridge Local Municipality.   Khensani Antoinette Mashaba was found guilty and sentenced in the Mhala Regional Court last Tuesday for fraud and corruption. She was employed as a public officer at the municipality between April and November 2012.   The Special Investigating Unit launched an investigation after receiving a tip-off from a whistleblower.     A case was opened and transferred to the Hawks, who reported: "During the investigation, it was established that Mashaba recruited the two ladies to open a company (Amiway CC) and ordered them to put her cellphone number on the business account. It was also established that the said municipality was at all times dealing with the accused and not members of Amiway CC. The accused ensured that the particulars on the invoice, such as the postal address and contact numbers, did not belong to Amiway but were hers and those of her relatives." Mashaba then falsely submitted an claim for R93,480, which the municipality paid into Amiway’s business account for services which were never rendered. Mashaba was handed a five-year suspended sentence and ordered to pay R93,480 to the Bushbuckridge Local Municipality. She was also sentenced to house arrest for 12 months.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Nicole McCain at News24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • SIU investigating PPE tenders worth R2.3bn in provinces, says Joe Phaahla, at Independent Media

 


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