Green ID books not being withdrawn: Home Affairs

eNCA reports that green barcoded ID books will not be withdrawn from use on March 31, 2018, the Department of Home Affairs said on Monday. The department issued a statement after a false message did the rounds, stating the books would no longer be a legal form of identification. Home Affairs said the green ID books will continue being used “until such time that the Live Capture System is rolled out to all Home Affairs offices to enable South Africans to apply for Smart ID cards at their nearest offices.

“The department has developed a plan to systematically phase out the green ID book and ultimately consolidate the restoration, common citizenship, identity and dignity to South Africans.” Home Affairs said those who wished to apply for Smart ID cards now, could do so at any of the 180 offices that are already equipped with the Live Capture System. South Africans can also apply for Smart ID Cards FNB, Standard Bank, Nedbank and ABSA branches.

Joburg’s Klipspruit West Clinic shut after staff threatened

TimesLive reports that officials have shut down the Klipspruit West Clinic after staff faced backlash over the arrest of a man who had vandalised property at the clinic.

The City of Johannesburg’s MMC for Health and Social Development‚ Dr Mpho Phalatse, said the staff were threatened by “a few individuals who were disgruntled about the arrest of their brother‚ who had vandalised property at the clinic”.  Phalatse said services would resume once the safety of staff and patients could be guaranteed, but added that “healthcare was a human right and no one should deny the community that right regardless of their grievances.”

Prison official dismissed as a result of convict’s escape

Cape Times reports that a Drakenstein Correctional Centre official has been dismissed after an internal disciplinary hearing found him guilty of misconduct relating to the escape of convicted murderer from the prison earlier this year. Landile Yeko, serving 25 years for murder, housebreaking and theft of a vehicle, made headlines in February when he escaped from his cell.  He used a hacksaw to saw through the bars of his single cell’s window.  He was subsequently caught and given a six-month jail sentence for the prison break.

Monwabisi Faltein was charged with breaching security measures and dereliction of duties.  According to the charge sheet, he created a security safety risk by switching off lights at the A-unit office before Yeko’s escape.  Faltein then failed to conduct regular visits to A-unit cells while performing a second night shift, which facilitated Yeko’s escape.  Another of four officers charged over Yeko’s escape was exonerated of the charges against him.  The hearing against two more officials will resume in January.  The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) indicated that it would appeal the guilty verdict as Faltein had been dismissed “prematurely”.

by Siyavuya Mzantsi

Protest by Tshwane Metro Police ex-trainees for jobs

The Citizen reports that former Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) trainees chanted outside Tshwane House on Wednesday demanding to be reinstated and accusing mayor Solly Msimanga of “lying” and promising them “heaven and earth”, yet not doing anything. About 200 former TMPD trainees claimed they completed training courses and received diplomas, but have been without work for three years.  The trainees were initially recruited by the former ANC-led municipality for deployment, but after failing a subject in their exams in 2013, their contracts were terminated.

But they were afforded an opportunity by the former ANC-led administration to complete the course last year and Msimanga, during his election campaign, promised to reinstate them once he took office.  Derrick Kissoonduth, MMC on community safety, said the trainees only completed the first phase of training and that there were hurdles to offering them permanent employment as security guards.  He advised:  “I have spoken to the city manager and the mayor, but to re-employ them is a process.  We suggested taking them on as security guards but, first, we need money for salaries and then uniforms.  This was not budgeted for when this decision was made.”

by Rorisang Kgosana

Metrorail Western Cape to get R8bn injection

Fin24 reports that Metrorail services in the Western Cape are due to get no less than R8bn in new investment to improve ailing infrastructure, according to Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi. He told Parliamentarians on Tuesday that his ministry was working to address the inefficiencies in the province, made worse by instances of vandalism and arson.  He stated:  “Metrorail in the main should be fully functional.  In the Western Cape alone we are going to spend not less than R8bn to improve the Metrorail services.

There are problems of vandalism which have been reported here on several occasions.  We have also raised the matter of security with the Minister of Police.”  Maswanganyi also indicated that they have made progress in repairing train tracks and carriages that had been set alight in the Cape Town metro and elsewhere in the province.  They were confident of restoring around 60 full “sets”, consisting of 12 coaches each, and bringing them back into the system.

by Paul Herman

UN honours SA major for gender work in DRC

IOL News reports that SANDF Major Seitebatso Pearl Block was presented with the UN Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award yesterday. The award specifically recognises her work on a project reaching out to women’s organisations in remote parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It’s a general acknowledgement of the dedication and effort of an individual peacekeeper in promoting the principles of UN Security Council Resolution 1325.

An officer since 2007, Block has been deployed twice to the DRC with the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission (Monusco), first in 2010 as an information. She was hailed for developing strategic projects adopted and launched by Monusco.

Employment a hurdle for people living with disabilities in SA

The Star reports that according to advocates, the job market remains a restrictive place for people with disabilities. Few companies have made the adjustments necessary to accommodate disabled individuals in their workspaces, such as providing wheelchair accessibility.

The severity of the disability is often a factor in getting hired at various work institutions. With cerebral palsy, for example, some may struggle with certain motor functions like walking while still having the ability to speak normally. For others, it may be the opposite or difficulties with both. The Department of Labour’s chief director of labour relations Thembinkosi Mkalipi agreed that more sheltered employment locations are necessary.

by Lauren Jensik

Minister Gigaba’s support for the 4% salary adjustment for Political Office Bearers

COSATU says that it is amazed by the Minister of Finance Malusi Gigaba’s explicit support for the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers proposal that our millionaire Political Office Bearers should be given 4% salary increases backdated to April 2017. Despite the talk of an economic crisis and a ballooning public sector wage bill; there is still enough money to adjust the salaries of our well paid Political Office Bearers. The Minister of Finance’s endorsement of this proposed wage increase will give considerable comfort to nurses, teachers, police and other lowly public servants , who are currently asking for a salary increase of between 10-12% on a sliding scale.

The federations says that the Minister needs to explain government’s austerity measures and the freezing of public service posts to the citizens because if there is money for our well paid political principals, then there should be enough money for service delivery. The poor and unemployed of this country should be taken into confidence by the minister about the nature of our economic crisis because it cannot be that they are told about belt tightening, while politicians , judges, traditional leaders are getting salary increases. For a nation that is struggling with the real unemployment rate of 38%, with close to 10 million people struggling to get jobs and 17 million people on welfare, the minister has a lot of explaining to do. COSATU hopes that the minister has enough in his kitty to also come to the rescue of the around 13,8 million people, who are now living below the food poverty line of R17.38 per person per day.

Department of Water and Sanitation pays bonuses

BusinessLive reports that Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane has admitted that her department paid out R30m worth of bonuses to its employees, despite the department having been found wanting in the management of its financial books. This emerged in a written reply by the minister to MPs’ questions released on Monday morning.  She said 1,959 officials between salary levels 1 and 12 got the bulk of the R30m in performance bonuses.

Two officials in salary levels 13 and 14 got a bonus of R58,092.82 and R69,069.60 respectively.  In his 2015-16 audit report, Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu noted that the department incurred fruitless and wasteful expenditure to the value of R87.2m and irregular expenditure amounting to R2.5bn.  But, the minister blamed circumstances beyond her control for the state of her department’s finances, claiming that projects were well executed by departments but poorly maintained by municipalities.  The department had also been dealing with the suspension since July of its director-general, Dan Mashitisho.

by Khulekani Magubane

Heher report proposes TVET colleges should be fee-free

TimesLive reports that the Heher commission of inquiry has proposed that Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges should be fee-free. Moreover, stipends should be made available to fully fund studies‚ as needed.  The report states that technically qualified‚ work ready graduates were worth investing in because of their potential benefit to the economy.

The commission also recommends that an amount of R50-billion from the surplus of the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) should be ring-fenced to help fund infrastructure development at TVET colleges.  It further proposes improvements to curricula and teaching standards at these institutions.