news shutterstockIn our afternoon roundup, see summaries
of our selection of South African labour-
related stories that appeared thus far on
Monday, 4 June 2018.


Health Ombudsman warns that SA’s public healthcare system on verge of collapse

eNCA reports that Health Ombudsman, Malegapuru Makgoba, has warned that SA’s healthcare system is on the verge of collapse.  Speaking on "The Modise Network" on Sunday, the ombud said he was looking at several concerning cases, particularly in Gauteng.  "I've received close to 2,000 complaints, about 800 of those are from Gauteng.  It just tells you the level of activity around complaints in Gauteng, in health alone.  Nevertheless, I think there are many Life Esidimenis that are taking place throughout our country.”  Makgoba, who investigated the deaths of 144 psychiatric patients in the Life Esidimeni tragedy, said many healthcare professionals involved were scared to speak up because they feared those in power.  The patients died after the Gauteng health department transferred them to ill-equipped NGOs.  He related:  "They (the healthcare professionals) knew what was happening was wrong, but they felt like they had no power; they were fearful of their principals or their leaders and they were contributing to this so-called collective responsibility that makes no sense to anybody.  I interviewed 25 people from the department. I didn't meet anybody who wasn't fearful, fearful of the MEC, the HOD, the director of mental health at the time.  They were all fearful of them."

Read this report and view the interview with Makgoba at eNCA

SA Medical Association warns that Gauteng health department is on life support

The Citizen reports that the SA Medical Association (Sama) has warned that the Gauteng health department is heading for a financial disaster similar to that of North West.  The North West department was put under national administration in April following a month-long strike and allegations of corruption and mismanagement.  The Gauteng department has struggled for two years to pay performance bonuses to medical staff, which led to the shutdown of Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg last week.  The strike was led by members of various unions, including Nehawu and Denosa.  Sama was responding to news that all the provincial departments would foot the bill for the damages awarded in March to families in the Life Esidimeni tragedy.  Sama chairperson Dr Mzukisi Grootboom said:  “It is very worrying.  And we hope that the health department will not end up paying the bulk of this, because already we are being told that there are no funds to employ new doctors, and we have been seeing in the media all of the instances where doctors were struggling to find employment after their internships.  It really is a disaster.  Surely, [Gauteng] is headed in the same direction as the North West, Limpopo and Eastern Cape health departments.”  The Life Esidimeni tragedy involved the deaths of 144 deaths mental health patients after they were moved en masse out of the facility.

Read this report by Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni in full at The Citizen


Government staff face daily terror in dodgy office building in Pretoria

Timeslive writes that holes in the walls, sewage seeping through walls and the roof and speeding lifts are just some of the hazards workers at the national headquarters of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) have to deal with every day.  Confidential documents show that the Pretoria building, which houses Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha's office, is a serious fire hazard.  The building was the target of a bomb attack in the 1980s, which is said to have caused long-standing structural damage.  Yet, despite both internal and external health and safety inspection reports, written throughout 2016 and 2017, the DCS continues, on a month-to-month basis, to rent the 32-storey Poynton's building from its owners.  Department spokesperson Logan Maistry said, along with the Public Works Department, they had engaged with the landlord and established a plan to comply with all occupational health and safety regulations and requirements.  He said the occupational health and safety imperatives were obligatory and remedial action by the landlord was being implemented to ensure they were met.  On Thursday, staff who work in the building protested over the hazards.  Jonathon Khosa, Popcru chairperson at the DCS headquarters, claimed that nearly R5m a month was paid in rent, while the department and the owners had put up notices saying people entered the building at their own risk.

Read this report by Graeme Hosken in full at TimesSelect (paywall access)


Stakeholders in mining industry pledge to collaborate to achieve zero harm

Mining Weekly reports that precious metals producer Sibanye-Stillwater is concerned that a plateau has been reached in reducing fatalities in SA’s mining industry.  It believes a different and collaborative approach involving all stakeholders is needed for the industry to achieve its aspiration of 'zero harm'.  It was agreed during a multi-stakeholder summit hosted by Sibanye late in May and attended by representatives from organised labour and the Department of Mineral Resources, that a rising trend in fatal work-related accidents was a major concern.  “All participants to the summit recognised the significance and importance of continuing these dialogues, where stakeholders can put their differences aside and prioritise the health and safety of all workers,” Sibanye said in a statement issued on Monday.  The stakeholders agreed that the summit was an important first step in the quest for zero harm and committed to continuing with further engagement in three weeks’ time.  They also agreed to a pledge, establishing the scope and spirit in which stakeholders would work further towards achieving zero harm.

Based on a report at Mining Weekly

Easy access to explosives due to lax controls in mining a factor in increase in cash-in-transit heists

Timeslive reports that a study has found that easy access to explosives and corruption in the police system are some of the reasons for a dramatic increase in cash-in-transit heists.  Criminologist Dr Mahlogonolo Thobane has concluded that due to a lack of control in the mining sector‚ robbers found it easy to access explosives for heists.  On Wednesday, the Seshego Regional Court in Limpopo jailed two mine workers to 30 years each for supplying‚ possession and theft of explosives.  A third mineworker was sentenced to 15-year sentence for theft of explosives.  Captain Matimba Maluleke from the Hawks said they could not rule out a possibility of there being a link between the dealers and the rise in cash-in-transit heists since the crime was often operated by syndicates.  He expressed the hope that the sentences would send a strong message that joint police efforts were yielding excellent results in ensuring that those are involved in the illegal supply of explosives went to jail for a very long time.

Read this report by Kgaugelo Masweneng in full at Timeslive. See too, Already three separate cash-in-transit heists on Monday morning, at News24

Other labour / community posting(s) relating to mining


Striking municipal workers blamed for dry taps in Ugu district

Afro Voice reports that striking municipal workers have been blamed for taps running dry in the Ugu district.  With the strike having entered its second week, some communities have been without running water for more than five days and the recently formed Joint Operations Centre is considering declaring the district a disaster zone.  The water supply shortage has also affected the Port Shepstone Provincial Hospital.  Allegations of lawlessness and tampering by strikers have emerged.  Municipal spokesperson Sphelele Cele said teams had been deployed to the affected areas, but the urgent moves to restore basic services to Ugu have been hampered.  “It seems that overnight some of the areas that were restored yesterday have been tampered with and we are working to bring those areas back online,” Cele said on Sunday.  On Friday, members of the KZN executive council convened an emergency meeting with the municipality in the wake of unrest in the district.  The latest labour dispute is over the non-payment of municipal staff who embarked on an illegal and unprotected strike action in March.  The municipality effected a no work, no pay principle and salary deductions were applied in May.

Read more of this report by Sibongiseni Maphumulo at SA Labour News

Addo Elephant Park's main gate inaccessible to visitors due to protests by striking citrus workers

Traveller24 reported on Monday morning that Addo Elephant National Park's main gate remained inaccessible to visitors due to protests.  South African National Parks (SANParks) said on Twitter on Thursday, 31 May, that the gate could not be accessed "due to protests by striking citrus farm workers".  Addo confirmed with Traveller24 that on Monday, 4 June, the status at the Park "remains the same as the last few days".  "Staff members residing outside the Park are being intimidated/ stopped from going to work," the Park added.  In addition, the Park said that its game viewing gates (Gate 2 at Main Camp and Matyholweni Gate) would only open at 06:30 during June and July and not at the usual time of 6:00.

A short report by Kavitha Pillay is at Traveller24


People’s Health Movement withdraws from Nehawu body for failure to condemn violent hospital protests

GroundUp reports that the People’s Health Movement SA (Phmsa) has withdrawn its membership from the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) health sub-committee.  This was after Nehawu did not condemn violent protests at hospitals in North West Province in early May and at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg last week.  Phmsa apparently emailed Nehawu on 24 April and 11 May expressing concern about protests at hospitals with no response.  Phmsa said it “supports the right of health workers to take strong, even disruptive industrial action to improve wages and working conditions” and it noted that the law made health workers “vulnerable to exploitation by limiting their right to strike”.  But, Phmsa added:  “We do not … condone violence, nor action that endangers the lives of vulnerable people.”  The organisation said it did not see “any report of Nehawu distancing itself from these, or from the reported earlier actions, nor of disciplinary steps being taken”.  Phmsa decided to distance itself “from any acts by Nehawu that causes harm to the health of vulnerable people and to people’s health more broadly”.

Read this report by Eryn Scannell in full at GroundUp


KPMG expects 400 people to leave as the auditor shuts regional offices and ‘reshapes’

Fin24 reports that beleaguered audit firm KPMG expects some 400 people to leave the firm as it shuts several regional offices.  The company announced on Monday that it was "reshaping" its business and "strengthen[ing] leadership capacity".  KPMG said in a statement:  "These changes follow a strategic review of the firm’s activities and take into account recent client losses and current levels of demand for certain services.  They are the latest in a series of initiatives announced by the firm in recent months to support its drive to restore KPMG’s strength in South Africa.  We anticipate up to 400 people leaving the firm as a result of our plan to close certain regional offices, operate a refocused advisory business and scale back our internal business support to reflect our reduced footprint."  The business will continue to operate out of Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth and will “continue to offer a wide range of the core services that our global, regional and local clients require."  The SA Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica) is conducting a probe into KPMG staff.  KPMG, meanwhile, has lost millions in fees due to a growing list of clients dumping the company.

Read this report by Marelise van der Merwe in full at Fin24. Read too, KPMG to lay off 400 employees in latest shake-up, at Moneyweb

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Opinion: Eskom has no option but to shed its bloated staff load, at BL Premium (paywall access)


Three ex-employees found guilty after seven years in courts of defrauding Compensation Fund

Timeslive reports that three former employees of the Department of Labour’s Compensation Fund were found guilty in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court last week of defrauding the fund.  The trial of Maxwell Ramaphosa‚ Samuel Mfeleng and Kgabo Johanna Methi started in 2011.  Ramaphosa and Mfeleng were found guilty on 10 counts of fraud and money laundering.  Methi was found guilty on three counts of fraud.  The trio defrauded the fund of R476‚150 by colluding with physiotherapist Jones Modau.  They siphoned money from the fund by creating false claims and channelling the money into Modau’s account before sharing the loot.  Modau pleaded guilty in March 2012 and was handed a sentence of three years of correctional supervision.  In another case‚ Ramaphosa and Mfeleng were found guilty in 2016 of defrauding the Compensation Fund.  The Pretoria Magistrate’s Court sentenced them to 10 years imprisonment wholly suspended for five years.

A short report by Nico Gous is at Timeslive. Read the Department of Labour’s press statement at DOL News

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Golden Arrow bus commuters to pay more on ticket fares, at EWN
  • Metrorail says enforcement unit could tighten noose on vandals, at EWN


Fares, fuel hikes to hit commuters hard

Cape Argus writes that cash-strapped consumers, especially commuters, are in for a wallop of a fuel price increase that will see a steep increase in transport costs.  According to the Automobile Association (AA), this month’s price hike will also include a large deficit carried over from April.  Petrol is expected to rise by up to 85 cents a litre, diesel by 87 cents and illuminating paraffin by 82 cents.  Golden Arrow’s general manager Derick Meyer noted that the company had carried the burden of rising fuel costs, which increased by 30% over the past year and was projected to increase by 6% next month.  “Regrettably, the company is no longer in a position to absorb these cost escalations and in line with the special conditions of its interim contract with the Western Cape Provincial Department of Transport will therefore be adjusting fares in the coming months,” Meyer indicated.  Janine Myburgh, president of the Cape Chamber of Commerce, said the fuel price increase would have a big effect on the economy, while economist Mike Schűssler observed that it would hit commuters who mostly relied on public transport the hardest.

Read this report by Marvin Charles in full at Cape Argus

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Commuters were the big losers in the badly negotiated bus strike, at City Press


Department of Labour taking steps to get Johannesburg Labour Centre reopened

The Department of Labour reports that it has moved a step closer towards the reopening of the Johannesburg Labour Centre (JLC) to address service delivery.  A new advertisement for the tender for office accommodation is to be placed by the Department of Public Works in the Government Tender Bulletin in the first week of June 2018.  In a series of engagements held between the Departments of Public Works and Labour, it was agreed that the process of finding new office accommodation needed to be restarted.  New specifications were developed and approved and a project execution plan was developed.  The department’s building at 143 Commissioner Street was closed following a prohibition notice issued by the occupation health and safety inspectors over concerns for the safety of employees.  After corrective action, the notice was revoked.  But before the staff could move back in, a fire in the building broke out in June 2015 resulting in the deaths of two fire fighters.  The Johannesburg Emergency Services then conducted an investigation to determine the cause of the fire and ultimately found that the building was generally unsafe for accommodation and served a notice on the landlord to shut the building completely.  In July 2017, a tender for office accommodation for the JLC was advertised, but no successful bidder was found at that time.

Read the Department of Labour’s full press statement at DOL News


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page