Thursday, 31 August 2017

City of Joburg workers refuse to work following colleagues' arrests.

City of Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba 
says the work stoppages were illegal 
and an unfortunate attempt at 
shielding corrupt officials from the full might of the law.
Johannesburg - The City of Joburg’s open day, planned for Saturday for Region E (Sandton and surrounding areas) at the Sandton Field and Study Recreation Centre, has been cancelled because of a work stoppage by revenue department staff.

The open day had been scheduled for residents with billing problems to get their accounts rectified. 
Since last Friday, when 13 officials were arrested, the staff at Thuso House in Braamfontein, have refused to assist customers.

The City now says it is to institute disciplinary action against the illegal work stoppages in their revenue shared services centre (RSSC).

Mayor Herman Mashaba said the stoppage started following the arrests that were made by the Hawks together with the city’s group forensic department.

Those arrested were charged with fraud, theft and corruption.

“The group of employees participating in the current illegal work stoppage have done so in alleged solidarity with the arrested officials. Since last week, 40 other persons have been implicated in wrongdoing within the RSSC through evidence provided by banking institutions,” said the mayor.

It is alleged that those implicated in wrongdoing have defrauded the city of about R2.5 million for claiming fraudulent refunds on behalf of property owners. In some instances, individual property owners colluded with the officials to inflate refunds due to them, he added.

“The figure is expected to rise as the investigation continues – further arrests are expected soon. The city will work with the asset and forfeiture unit to recover monies allegedly stolen by those implicated.

"The current illegal work stoppage is unprotected under existing labour laws and is nothing more than an unfortunate attempt at shielding corrupt officials from the full might of the criminal justice system. It is unfortunate that a faction of the South African Municipal Workers Union has also chosen to support and protect those implicated in fraud and corruption in this matter. 

This must be condemned in the strongest terms. Under previous administrations, corruption was allowed to rise to endemic levels, hampering service delivery throughout the city,” he said.

Mashaba said those involved in the work stoppage will be considered not to be on duty;the principle of “no work, no pay” will apply to employees who participate in the work stoppage;  official leave in terms of the conditions of service shall not be approved for the day of the work stoppage and  employees reporting as sick during the work stoppage would have to provide a valid doctor’s note as proof of illness.

"The city recognises its employees’ right to engage in lawful protest action. However, this cannot be used to undermine the rule of law, defend corruption and protect those who would steal from residents," Mashaba added.

The city’s member of the mayoral committee, Rabelani Dagada, is believed to be orking with staff within his department to normalise the existing situation.

In the interim, customers are encouraged to use other service centres in all the regions of the city to resolve billing concerns.

Many residents have complained to The Star that members of staff at Thuso House are refusing to assist them. They said while the doors are open, staff was sitting huddled in groups refusing to attend to members of the public.

A revenue staff member told The Star, on the condition of remaining anonymous, that staff were now were afraid to log onto the computers for fear of being accused of fraud.

“We don’t know what we will be accused of if we log on. We know of one new staff member who was arrested and we know for sure that he is innocent,” she said.

By Anna Cox.

Culled from IOL.

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