Labour conducts blitz inspection in Agricultural Sector, Free State

The department of labour reports that Blitz inspections in the Agricultural Sector painting a positive picture as cases of non-compliance are not as bad as anticipated.  As part of this year’s Workers Month campaign, the Department of Labour in the Free State conducted inspections at Green Park Farm, Yukon Farms and Stols Farm in Bothaville. These inspections are conducted by inspectors representing all competencies within the Inspection and Enforcement Services Directorate of the Department.  Out of three farms inspected, only Yukon Farms was found to be in contravention of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. This company failed to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for its employees, its electrical installations did not conform to safety regulations as their distribution boxes were not covered and labelled, and had loose wires running about in the workplace.

There were no proper safety signs and notices in terms of safety standards.  The employer’s incident register was there just for compliance purposes but no incidents were recorded on the register while there were incidents that took place in this workplace.  Contravention notices were then served to the employer and they will be required to rectify all the non-compliances within 60 days. The other two companies were found to be in compliant with all provisions of labour laws. Coupled with these inspections were advocacy sessions where workers were taken through different pieces of labour legislation. Workers were also taken through other provisions of the Sectoral Determination 13: Farm Worker Sector stipulating the different types of leave employees are entitled to,  hours of work and the need to have written particulars of employment with their respective employers.

Ref: SA Govt News

Ramaphosa launches YES initiative

The Citizen reports that on Tuesday President Cyril Ramaphosa officially launched the Youth Employment Service (YES), an initiative that aims to see more than one million young South Africans being offered paid work experience over the next three years. Ramaphosa said 330,000 jobs would be created a year for young people as a way to address youth unemployment in the country.  The initiative takes the form of a partnership – led by Ramaphosa – between government, business, labour and civil society and it has three channels through which employment opportunities can occur.

It will be spread throughout the country and will not be confined to urban areas.  Gauteng Premier David Makhura welcomed the decision to use his province as the testing ground for the initiative.  He said YES would partner with the provincial government’s Tshepo 1 million initiative, which has given opportunities to youth in the province by providing training in areas demanding specific jobs.  The service’s CEO, Tashmia Ismail-Saville, called on small, medium and large companies to offer work experience even if it was for one young person or a thousand of them.  She added that several businesses have made pledges to actively take part in the initiative.

by Makhosandile Zulu

Aviation security training school ordered to stop all training pending investigation

The New Age reports that the SA Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has ordered two training institutions, accused of not offering sufficient training to airport security trainees, to stop all training until an investigation has been completed. The SACAA on Tuesday said it took matters of safety and security very seriously and that it had launched an immediate investigation into the veracity of allegations made in news reports.

On Monday, media reports emerged that Reshebile Aviation and Security Services sent its staff for week-long training at Ntate Aviation and Security Training, but there was no instructor for them.  Instead, they were made to watch a few videos and also read a theory book.  The trainees are responsible for passengers’ luggage before it is loaded onto planes and checking for weapons and other contraband.  Upon receiving reports about the allegations, the SACAA immediately dispatched a team of inspectors to get evidence from the school.  Ntate Training is accredited by the SACAA, however, this is subject to training being conducted in-line with the regulations at all times.

Poultry producer Astral wants chicken to be VAT zero-rated

BusinessLive reports that poultry producer Astral indicated in a press release on Thursday that chicken should be exempt from value added tax (VAT). Under the existing laws, there are 19 basic food items that escape VAT and, with the exception of tinned pilchards and sardines, all of the VAT-exempt food items are vegetarian.

The increase in VAT to 15% in April from the 14% it had been for the past 25 years would hurt consumers who relied on chicken for their main source of protein, Astral argued.  The producer went on to state:  “Chicken is the cheapest source of meat protein in SA and now forms a large part of the basic diet of the South African population, with consumption at close to 40kg per person per year.”

by Robert Laing

Tshwane gears up for Friday’s march

TimesLive reports that according to the Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD), officers will be out in full force on Friday to maintain law and order during the anticipated march by dismissed security guards and “Vat Alles” workers.

TMPD spokesperson Nonhlanhla Mgiba said the only approved march was that of a group called “All Tshwane Vat Alles Employees”‚ scheduled to start at 08h00 from Burgers Park to Tshwane municipality headquarters and disperse at 13h00.

by Sipho Mabena

Four officials arrested in Soweto for issuing fraudulent roadworthy certificates

TimesLive reports that four officials were arrested in Soweto on Thursday in an anti-corruption crackdown dubbed Operation Domino for allegedly facilitating the issuing of fraudulent roadworthy certificates in respect of vehicles that had not been tested.

The three vehicle examiners and a cashier were arrested during a raid of the premises of Innovative Roadworthy Centre in Midway‚ Soweto‚ by a joint team of law enforcement officers comprising the Road Traffic Management Corporation’s National Traffic Anti-Corruption Unit‚ the SAPS’ organised crime unit and the Gauteng Traffic compliance unit.  Hundreds of roadworthy test sheets bearing a passed stamp and the signature of the cashier‚ were found on the premises.  Particulars of applicants and results of tests done on vehicles had not been filled in on the forms.  The suspects are expected to appear in court on Monday for a bail hearing.

Royal Bafokeng Platinum ordered to suspend mining at North shaft

Bloomberg reports that Royal Bafokeng Platinum (RBM) was ordered on Thursday by mining inspectors to suspend operations at its North shaft. The company was issued with a so-called Section 54 notice for the entire shaft, said two people familiar with the situation. The suspension follows a similar notice a week ago which resulted in the shutdown of operations at parts of the South shaft for safety reasons.

Inspectors from the Department of Mineral Resources apparently returned to the mine earlier on Thursday.  RBM advised last week that it had informed Aforika Borwa Mining Solutions, which is linked to the politically connected Gupta family, that it won’t be renewing its contract.

by Paul Burkhardt and Loni Prinsloo

Kraaipan community cry out for inclusion in surrounding mines

SABC News reports that Kal-Gold mine, a subsdiary of Harmony Gold, is expected to engage with the community of Kraaipan to defuse the ongoing dispute over the employment of locals in the Ratlou Municipality. The community of Kraaipan Madibogo, Mareetsane and Ga Khunwana burned trees and used rocks to block the N18 linking Vryburg and Mahikeng since the early hours of Monday.

They accuse Kal- Gold of failing completely, over a long time, to create benefits from the community upon which they operate. Community forum spokesperson, Pogisho Dipheko says they will not back down until they get a response in writing that their demand will be met. Meanwhile, the mining operations has also come to a halt after a group of miners who went for a night shift on Sunday still cannot exit the mine. The mine management was not available for comment as it was reported to be en route to Kraaipan.

by Mpho Lepedi

Patients plan to sue Pietermaritzburg private hospital over bogus doctor

Sunday Tribune reports that patients treated by an unregistered doctor at the Daymed Private Hospital in Pietermaritzburg plan to sue the facility. Four patients who were treated by Cuban national Juan Luis Yings Elutil, known as Dr Omar, said last week that they were horrified.  Elutil, who was caught after an investigation by medical aid firm Discovery Health, was arrested by police two weeks ago and charged with fraud by the Health Professionals Council of SA (HPCSA) for practising while unregistered for 14 years.

The hospital is owned by Dr Navind Dayanand, who last week denied knowing Elutil was unregistered.  Last week, the Mountain Rise police station sent out a statement stating that the case against Elutil had provisionally been withdrawn in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court, but this was died by the National Prosecuting Authority.

by Nabeelah Shaikh

North West municipalities face financial woes

SABC News reports that many municipalities in the North West are facing financial difficulties. This is against seemingly unsuccessful intervention efforts by the provincial government. Some municipalities, such as Ditsobotla and Lekwa – Teemane local municipalities ended up unlawfully using employees’ statutory deductions, such as medical aid and pension deductions, to pay off, their debts.

The practice, which left many employees without benefits, has been condemned by the North West Legislature’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa). Faced with financial challenges, Ditsobotla local municipality, dipped its fingers in the employees’ statutory deductions, estimated at R4million. The municipality’s illegal deductions have caused hardships for many of its workers. The South African Local Government Association (Salga) blames such challenges, on lack of capacity, within municipalities. Scopa has summoned the Ditsobotla and Lekwa Teemane local municipalities, to appear before its committee, to account.

by Olebogeng Kgosilentswe