Durban painted red by Sadtu

SowetanLive reports that on Friday thousands of SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) members flooded the Durban central business district in a flow of red‚ protesting against the state of affairs in education in the province. But the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) department of education questioned the timing of the march just three days before more than 198,000 learners write their matric exams.  The union handed over a memorandum to the department’s head‚ Dr Vusumuzi Nzama.

Concerns were expressed about critical posts remaining vacant; delays in transferring school funds; the non-implementation of the posts provisioning norms; lack of provision of basic infrastructure such as toilets at schools; and the failure to provide support to education workers and teachers.  Sadtu’s Mugwena Maluleke also used the march to say the union would fight any attempts by the Gupta family to capture the Public Investment Corporation (PIC)‚ which manages the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF).  The union warned the department that the protest was the beginning of rolling mass action.  A march will be held in Pretoria on Tuesday this week.

by Bongani Mthethwa

New taxi rank for Katlehong commuters opened in Ekurhuleni

ANA writes that commuters in Katlehong in Ekurhuleni on the East Rand can now breathe a sigh of relief with the opening of the newly constructed Phuthaditjaba taxi rank. On Friday, the mayoral committee member for transport and planning, Petrus Mabunda, handed over the R23 million facility to them.

The taxi rank will serve commuters transported by both the Greater Alberton Taxi Association and the Katlehong Peoples’ Taxi Association.  Amenities available at the new rank include an office building, public ablution facilities, hawker stalls, a wash bay, a sheltered loading area, a holding area, fencing, water and electricity, access roads, and an administration office.

Ref: The Citizen

Mineworker killed, another trapped underground at Mponeng gold mine

Netwerk24 reported on Sunday that rescue teams were searching for a mineworkers who was trapped underground at the Mpoineng mine near Carletonville on the West Rand.

Another miner was killed after a series of tremors hit the mine, which belongs to AngloGold Ashanti (AGA).  Spokesperson Stewart Bailey said the rescue teams were very close to the trapped miner, but had to work slowly and carefully.  The names of the two workers have not yet been made known.  According to Bailey, the mine has a very good safety record. (Loosely translated from Afrikaans)

by Ügen Vos

Pilots at Mango and cabin crew at SA Airlink embark on strike action

TimesLive reports that according to union officials, employees of two local airlines will be downing tools on Monday.  Pilots at budget airline Mango are launching a strike after wage negotiations with the company failed. Deon Reyneke of trade union Solidarity said employees were demanding an 8.5% increase, while the company was offering 6%.  Meantime, members of the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) at SA Airlink were also due to go on strike.

“The 110 workers are employed as cabin crew at the regional airline and are disgruntled that the company refuses to accede to their pay increase demand.  Workers are demanding a 32% increase while the company is only offering 10%‚” the union indicated.  It said the demand was fuelled by the fact that the company had increased pilots’ salaries by 32%.  Satawu also intends to address racial undertones at the company in that black female cabin crew are not allowed to wear their hair natural as the airline deems it unprofessional.

by Nomahlubi Jordaan

Mineworkers in dock for Marikana murders

eNCA reports that eighteen mineworkers, who face multiple charges including murder emanating from the violent strike at Lonmin Platinum Mine in Marikana four years ago, are expected to appear in the North West High Court on Friday. Ten people were killed in the days leading to the Marikana massacre on 16 August 2012, when 34 striking mineworkers were shot dead by the police.

The remaining 18 face charges of murder, robbery, malicious damage to property and unlawful possession of a firearm. They are expected to appear in the high court sitting in Mogwase for a pre-trial conference. The state alleges they killed two policemen, two Lonmin security officers and non-striking mineworkers. One of the accused, Anele Zonke, is already serving a 42-year prison sentence, having been sentenced in February for the 2014 murder of Samancor Chrome mine’s human resources manager Goodman Zalukano and the attempted murder of Thandi Zulakangana. When Zalukano and Zulakangana left a shopping complex in Kroondal, near Rustenburg, they were attacked by Zonke and his accomplices.

Ref: ANA

Government tardiness drives up costs of labour penalties

BusinessLive reports national and provincial government departments have shown a “hostile” contempt for labour courts and arbitration bodies in the past four years as a quarter of all arbitration awards issued against them were not complied with. This is according to a new report by the Public Service Commission into non-compliance by departments to awards where they were found to have treated employees unfairly.

Public Service Commissioner (PSC) Moira Marais-Martin said during a briefing in Pretoria on Thursday that while the scale of non-implementation was “not huge” there was an increase in costs because of litigation in terms of compensation for successful applicants. The PSC report said that government departments incurred arbitration awards of R166m between 2013 and 2016 and R94m in compensation costs. However, she said, many departments did not comply with arbitration orders, which drove costs even higher for departments. The report is due to be sent to the Department of Public Service and Administration for further consultation and discussion.

by Khulekani Magubane

School’s principal‚ management team removed following alleged molestation of grade R learners

The Staff Writer reports that Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi announced he has removed the principal and management team of a Soweto primary school where 83 grade R learners were allegedly molested by a guard. The school has not been named to avoid identifying the children. Initially‚ the number of learners allegedly molested was given as 54. However‚ the department said on Thursday afternoon it had been informed by officials sent to investigate that the number had risen to 83.

Lesufi said the man had appeared at the Protea Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday. He was remanded in police custody until next Wednesday. The department would engage with the school governing body soon to establish reasons why it should not be dissolved‚ Lesufi said. The department also said an independent body had been appointed to investigate all allegations levelled against the principal and her management. A counselling process was conducted by a team made up of education department officials‚ health and social department officials and the Teddy Bear Clinic.

Ref: SowetanLive

How garnishee orders keep gouging debtors despite a landmark ruling

In an informative and detailed report, BusinessLive writes that it has been 13 months since the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) handed down a landmark ruling on the illegality of certain practices in the administration of garnishee orders, but for many of the applicants in that case life is just as bleak. Activists claim that fee-gouging and fraudulent court orders continue unabated.  Emolument attachment orders (EAOs) are sanctioned by courts as a solution to the “problem” of debtor default.  Most of what is called “garnishees” in SA are actually EAOs.

Five main “loopholes” are used to abuse the Act, but the ConCourt dealt with only two.  Debtors report signing blank consent forms or being bullied into consenting to jurisdiction changes.  They also report consenting to judgment (a method of skipping through some of the main steps in obtaining an EAO).  There have been accusations of clerks being bribe and approving whatever is put in front of them.  Clark Gardner of Summit Financial Partners, which works with public and private payrolls to audit garnishees on the books, says the biggest issue with garnishees is garnishees not passed by the court.  “These are fraudulent orders,” he indicated.

by Kate Ferreira

Cosatu asks Gigaba to explain PIC audit order

SABC News reports that trade union federation, Cosatu has called on Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba to be clearer on the motivation behind a planned forensic audit of all the Public Investment Corporation’s investments. Cosatu’s call follows an order from Gigaba for an audit of all Public Investment Corporation (PIC) transactions since 2014.

Since then there have been more eyes on the corporation which manages the Government Employees Pension Fund that are worth more than R1,8 trillion in assets. Cosatu wants answers on the Finance Minister’s order this week for a forensic audit of all PIC investments. Its General-Secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali has called on Gigaba to make his intentions clearer. Gigaba requested that the audit be carried out by a reputable independent forensic company.

by Devan Murugan

Payouts by CCOD to injured miners triple after reforms

BusinessLive reports that the Compensation Commission for Occupational Diseases (CCOD) tripled the number of payouts it made to injured miners in the 2016-17 financial year compared to the year before. This suggests that the reforms driven by commissioner Barry Kistnasamy are starting to bear fruit. Just under 5,300 miners and former mineworkers received a collective R203.6m in the 2016-17 year, compared to the R79.3m paid out to 1,766 claimants the year before.

Briefing parliament’s portfolio committee on health on Tuesday, Kistnasamy conceded that the CCOD was still getting its books in order and only expected to table its 2016-17 annual report in 2018, but was at pains to demonstrate that the formerly dysfunctional organisation was making significant progress in tackling the massive backlog of miners’ claims.

by Tamar Kahn