Today's Labour News

newsThis news aggregator site highlights South African labour news from a wide range of internet and print sources. Each posting has a synopsis of the source article, together with a link or reference to the original. Postings cover the range of labour related matters from industrial relations to generalist human resources.

news shutterstockIn our Tuesday morning roundup, see
summaries of our selection of South African
labour-related reports.


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY

Worker killed after sandbank collapses at Amanzimtoti construction site

IOL News reports that a worker was killed and a second man injured after a sandbank collapsed onto them in Mount Road, in Amanzimtoti, south of Durban on Monday. The patient suffered a heart attack and died at the scene, paramedics said. The men were apparently working at a construction site when the sandbank collapsed. ALS Paramedics spokesperson, Garrith Jamieson said both men were severely trapped, with one of the men sustaining critical injuries. Paramedics and firefighters worked to free the men using spades and other tools. “Once freed, one of the men went into a state of cardiac arrest, and paramedics from Netcare911 and ALS Paramedics attempted to resuscitate the man, however, after a lengthy process, the man was declared deceased on scene," Jamieson explained. The man is believed to be in his 30s. Jamieson said the second man, once freed, had sustained minor injuries and refused further treatment.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Se-Anne Rall at IOL News. See too, Man killed by collapsing sandbank in Amanzimtoti, at The Witness

Where are truck drivers allowed to sleep on long-haul journeys?

TimesLIVE examines the issue of whether picnic stops on the sides of national freeways are legal stopping points for trucks and whether drivers can rest at the sites overnight? If not, then where can they sleep on their long-haul drives?   According to the Road Freight Association (RFA), truckers must adhere to the many parking restrictions placed on them — and all other road users — by the National Road Traffic Act.   These pertain to the width of road and distance to the nearest intersection or bridge. There are also prohibitions by local authorities, municipalities, provinces and/or the SA National Roads Agency. Assuming the drivers adhere to the regulations, commercial vehicles may park off the road at any place. However, this certainly doesn’t mean truck drivers should ideally pull over and take a nap at a picnic stop. While this may not be illegal, it could be very unsafe. For this reason, Ryan Gaines, CEO of logistics company City Logistics, said when the company’s truck drivers wanted to sleep — be it a power nap or a more lengthy period of rest — they were instructed to only stop at designated truck stops. “The stops charge a fee of R80 to R230, depending on the route. The fee offers the driver and their load added security while the driver rests. Truck stops also provide a place to buy a hot meal, toilets and showers,” he indicated.   So while technically truck drivers may sleep on the side of the road if the location adheres to the National Road Traffic Act, in practical terms commercial truck drivers whose safety is considered paramount by their employers are advised to avoid the situation.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at TimesLIVE


ETHEKWINI STRIKE FALLOUT

eThekwini head of electricity slapped with notice of intent to suspend over ‘sabotage’ allegations in relation to strike

IOL News reports that eThekwini Municipality head of electricity, Maxwell Mthembu has been issued a notice of intention to suspend and ordered to vacate his office. Mthembu is under investigation for allegedly failing to obey an instruction to issue dismissal letters to staff from his unit who took part in the recent protracted strike action by workers affiliated to the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu). According to the letter, Mthembu is accused of giving misleading and contradicting information to a city councillor that the strike was still on, directly contradicting the City Manager's media briefing that the strike was over. "(You) also contradicted the information you presented at one of the teleconference meetings with other unit heads that your employees are back at work, which is tantamount to sabotage," the letter states.   Mbhele said he had reasonable cause to believe that Mthembu might jeopardise the investigation into the allegations of misconduct or commit further acts of misconduct. Meanwhile, DA councillor Sakhile Mngadi said if the allegations were true, the City should act harshly on the implicated person.   "People are losing money, jobs and food because of the continued chaos. Having him suspended with pay is a slap in the face of residents. The DA has long been calling for Maxwell's removal from the City," he stated.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Se-Anne Rall at IOL News


DISTINGUISHED PUBLIC SERVICE

Government's longest-serving DG, Dr Phil Mjwara at Science and Innovation, bows out

ITWeb reports that Dr Phil Mjwara, the Department of Science and Innovation’s (DSI’s) long-standing director-general (DG), has retired. This shortly after Mjwara was honoured with the SA Medical Research Council’s Presidential Award for his contribution to promoting SA’s science, technology and innovation. In a statement, the higher education, science and innovation ministry said Mjwara had a long and distinguished career as a senior public servant. With 18 years of service, he was the country’s longest-serving DG. “He played a leading role in shaping the policy and institutional architecture of South Africa’s National System of Innovation (NSI). He led the establishment of some of our country’s key science institutions, such as the Technology Innovation Agency and the South African National Space Agency,” the ministry indicated. Mjwara holds a BSc, MSc and PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand *Wits).   His academic career includes serving as professor of science and technology policy at the University of Pretoria, and physics lectureships at Wits, Unisa and Fort Hare.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at ITWeb


ZEP APPEAL

Helen Suzman Foundation takes on Minister at ConCourt over Zimbabwean Exemption Permits

GroundUp reports that the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) has gone to court to oppose a bid by Department of Home Affairs (DHA) Minister Aaron Motsoaledi to appeal against a ruling that he may not terminate the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) programme. The HSF has filed papers in the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) opposing an application by the Minister for leave to appeal against a Pretoria High Court ruling which found his decision to be unlawful and unconstitutional.   The HSF says the unlawfulness of Motsoaledi’s decision to stop the ZEP had been determined on undisputed “common cause” facts which simply could not be appealed. The main premise for the High Court ruling was that the Minister had not consulted with the affected 178,000 permit holders prior to making his decision. The Minister had also not personally deposed to an affidavit in the matter. The High Court set aside the decision to stop the ZEP and sent the matter back to the Minister to make a fresh decision, following a fair, consultative process. It refused an application by the Minister for leave to appeal and the Supreme Court of Appeal recently dismissed his appeal on the grounds that it had no prospects of success. The Minister has now turned to the ConCourt. The Consortium For Refugees and Migrants In South Africa (CORMSA) has also filed papers opposing the Minister’s application for leave to appeal.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Tania Broughton at GroundUp. Read too, Home Affairs case to oppose ZEP permits ‘defective’, civil rights groups argue, at BusinessLive (subscriber access only). Lees ook, Hofsaak oor Zim-permitte na Grondwethof, by Maroela Media


AGRICULTURAL ASSISTANTS LEFT IN THE LURCH

Over 5,000 unemployed agriculture graduates dumped by department plead with Ramaphosa for intervention

The Star reports that over 5,000 assistant agricultural practitioners (AAP) left hanging after the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development terminated the graduates' contracts, are hoping that the President will come to their aid and reinstate them to their jobs.   The department developed a program for three months to appoint 10,000 unemployed agricultural graduates as AAPs to assist the government in reaching a target of one extension officer to 250 farmers. The 5,000 graduates were to be recruited in the first cycle of 2022/23 financial year and placed in different provinces and deployed with various agricultural institutions in the sector. These included the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), the Association of Veterinary and Crop Associations of SA, Grain SA, the SA Sugar Research Institute and the SA African Poultry Association, among others. However, during the course of July 2023, the AAPs nationwide were retrenched by the agricultural department, which cited budget constraints. Recently, the graduates once again marched to the offices of the department in Pretoria as well as taking their plea to the President at the Union Buildings.   The graduates stressed that with the finance minister having released the budget for the sector, they too had to be considered as many were struggling to make ends meet. Their demands called for the immediate reinstatement of graduates and for them to be employed permanently. Their memorandum was accepted by Phil Mahlangu, communications manager at the Presidency, who said they too were concerned about the graduates’ plight.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Goitsemang Matlhabe at The Star


‘FORGED’ PERMIT

Home Affairs Minister calls on the SIU to probe ’forged’ permit irregularity at his department

The Star reports that Department of Home Affairs (DHA) Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has called on the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to probe irregularities at his department. This after an illegal foreign national from Zimbabwe, Kudakwashe Mpofu, managed to infiltrate the North West provincial government using a fake residence permit to gain employment in the Department of Tourism.   Mpofu, who has since resigned from his position, worked as the chief financial officer. Speaking to the media on Sunday, the Minister said this issue had led him to request President Cyril Ramaphosa to authorise an SIU proclamation to deal with recent reports of irregularities at Home Affairs. He said the notion that the DHA was doing nothing to secure the country’s borders was not correct as the department and many of its units were working tirelessly to ensure that the issue of porous borders was being brought under control. Meanwhile, the North West MEC for Economic Development, Environment Conservation and Tourism, Virginia Tlhapi, said the department had noted the allegations and would be working closely with the SIU to ensure that this matter was resolved.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Siyabonga Sithole at The Star. Read too, Motsoaledi wants to rope in SIU to probe CFO over ‘forged’ permit, at Cape Times


‘TWO POT’ RETIREMENT SYSTEM

No two-pot retirement system withdrawals already by 1 September

The Citizen reports that although many of the six million who are members of retirement funds are looking forward to dipping into a portion of their retirement savings by 1 September this year when the Two-Pot Retirement System comes into operation, they will not already be able to make withdrawals on 1 September. Deputy Commissioner of the Financial Sector Conduct Authority, Astrid Luden, said in an answer to a question at a FSCA conference last week: “What we have to manage is the public’s understanding that nobody will be able to pay out on 1 September”. A person from the industry pointed out that members of retirement funds expected to be paid out on 1 September, which she also pointed out falls on a Sunday this year. Ludin advised that the FSCA had invited the industry to forthwith submit rule changes to the FSCA so that their feedback could be received upfront. “We know you can only submit your rule changes by 1 September.   We have three months. We must be clear about how this will be rolled out.   Things will go wrong and we must manage expectations on the outside,” she cautioned. The starting date of 1 September 2024 was confirmed as the implementation date for the two-pot retirement system in the Draft Revenue Laws Second Amendment Bill released by National Treasury to make technical corrections to the Draft Revenue Laws Second Amendment Bill on the same day as the Budget 2024 speech. Managers of retirement funds have until the end of March to comment on the Bill.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Ina Opperman at The Citizen


SKILLS DEVELOPMENT

Skills development central to fixing water quality issues, says BLSA’s Mavuso

Engineering News reports that in her latest weekly newsletter published on Monday, Business Leadership SA (BLSA) CEO Busi Mavuso addressed the major challenge of local government’s mismanagement of water infrastructure, which is leading to an increase in water shortages and questionable water quality. It appeared that the water crisis was growing, although it was difficult to determine the full extent of delivery failure in SA, since the degree to which municipalities were meeting their constitutional duty to provide water varied widely, Mavuso noted. She pointed out that according to the Blue Drop Audit Report, which was released by the Department of Water and Sanitation last year, the situation was dire and nearly half of the country’s drinkable water posed acute health risks owing to bacteria and pathogens. The report also highlighted a serious skills shortage across the system, with at least an additional 203 technical staff and 197 scientists being needed. Many stakeholders in the private sector have committed to assisting local governments, with businesses often sending their own staff to support maintenance and repair activities, although the onus was ultimately on national government to ensure that water services were effectively provided. Mavuso added that there needed to be development of skills in municipalities to enable them to proactively manage and maintain water systems. She advised that BLSA remained eager to partner with local government to enable such skills development through mentoring schemes.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at Engineering News. Lees ook, Sakelui bekommerd oor verbrokkelende waterinfrastruktuur, by Maroela Media


ALLEGED CORRUPTION / FRAUD

Warning about corruption at Tshwane driving licence testing centres

Pretoria News reports that the public in Tshwane have been warned not to fall prey to fraud and corruption by scammers at municipal driving licence testing centres. MMC for Roads and Transport Katlego Mathebe sounded the alarm about people masquerading as municipal officials and luring unsuspecting clients to demand cash from them for services at the licensing centres. She cautioned motorists against participating in fraud and corruption at licensing centres after several cases had been brought to the City’s attention by members of the public. Mathebe said the City had followed through on reported cases and “felt it necessary to caution residents to take measures to stand against fraud and corruption”. She pointed out that no cash payments should be made to anyone because all City of Tshwane licensing centres were cashless. Clients should ensure that they kept the proof of payment made at all times. The warning was against the backdrop that there appeared to be scammers posing as City employees or purporting to have contacts at the licensing centres.   Mathebe stressed that it was the responsibility of every licensing service centre client to confirm that the person assisting them was in fact a City employee.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Rapula Moatshe at Pretoria News

Nearly 6,000 public officials face punitive steps over R350 grant fraud

Cape Times reports that the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) has referred nearly 6,000 civil servants who defrauded the agency of the R350 social relief of distress (SRD) grants to their departments for disciplinary proceedings. Sassa CEO Busisiwe Memela issued letters to the government departments concerned at both the national and provincial-levels advising them of the identification of public servants on the Covid-19 SRD database in September 2022.   She requested that consequence management be implemented against the implicated officials by their respective government departments. This was revealed by Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu, who was responding to parliamentary questions. DA MP Bridget Masango had written to Zulu questioning progress made regarding consequence management of the 5,812 public servants who fraudulently received SRD grants, and the 33,833 public servants who fraudulently received other social grants. Zulu said Memela had issued letters requesting that disciplinary action be taken against officials in the Department of Basic Education, the Deeds Office, Department of Labour, Department of Justice, Department of Social Development, Limpopo’s provincial department of health, the SAPS and the Department of Correctional Services. Regarding the 33,833 public servants who fraudulently received other social grants, Zulu said the information was to be obtained from the Sassa’s fraud and compliance department.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Mayibongwe Maqhina at Cape Times

Two Western Cape police officers face jail time for fraud and corruption after being caught in cigarette sting more than 12 years ago

News24 reports that more than 12 years since their arrest, two former police officers will be sentenced for fraud and corruption in the Cape Town Regional Court on Tuesday. Western Cape National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said Wilfred Martin and Shaun Falmer were convicted of fraud, defeating the ends of justice and contravening the Customs and Excise Act.   On 27 December 2011, an undercover officer from the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) set a sting operation. "A DPCI member, in an unmarked vehicle on Main Road in Paarl pretended to be a foreign national whose vehicle broke down while transporting 12 boxes of illicit cigarettes. Paarl-based police officers approached the vehicle and arrested the 'foreign national' and seized the 12 boxes of illicit cigarettes," Ntabazalila explained. Only three boxes of cigarettes were booked in at the police station as seized goods.   The pair were released on bail and went on trial in the Paarl Regional Court in 2014. The accused challenged the constitutionality of their entrapment, prompting a trial-within-a-trial which lasted for a further five years before the prosecution closed its case after the court ruled the entrapment was constitutional. Ntabazalila said the court, after considering the extent of corruption by police officers, issued a judgment in August last year regarding the sentencing of the two officers. They face a minimum prescribed sentence of 15 years in jail unless the court finds compelling reasons to deviate from that sentence.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Cebelihle Bhengu at News24


OTHER REPORTS OF INTEREST

  • More companies facing business rescue and liquidation, at BusinssLive
  • SA’s big banks are hiring – these are the jobs they’re looking to fill in 2024, at BusinessTech
  • Petrolprys kan weer styg, by Maroela Media
  • Bolt driver convicted of rape gets two life terms, at The Mercury
  • Showdown at Magistrates Commission in disciplinary hearing against the senior Pietermaritzburg magistrate, at Daily News
  • NPA's application for leave to appeal acquittal of cops accused of killing Ntumba dismissed, at SowetanLive
  • The shame of SA's academia: Professors still too white at some universities, at News24 (subscriber access only)

 


Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page