By: Penwell Dlamini‚ Petru Saal‚ Jeff Wicks And Lwandile Bhengu
Cosatu’s big march hit its first hurdle after Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba did not personally collect a memorandum from workers.
Metro Centre was the first stop during the march against state capture and corruption in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
When thousands of workers arrived at the council’s offices‚ Cosatu leaders were informed that Mashaba was not coming to collect the memorandum.
Member of the Mayoral Committee for Public Safety‚ Michael Sun‚ accepted the memorandum on behalf of the mayor.
Workers who were part of the previous administration’s Jozi At Work programme accused Mashaba of retrenching them in the city. The Jozi At Work programme was used to provide basic services to communities such as cleaning.
Meanwhile‚ marchers made a diversion in Cape Town to highlight the plight of workers using trains.
Using public transport to get to work was like doing a “hell run every day” in the Western Cape‚ said Cosatu.
The federation’s provincial secretary‚ Tony Ehrenreich‚ delivered a memorandum to officials from the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) in Cape Town on Wednesday.
Cosatu‚ which embarked on a nationwide strike against corruption and state capture on Wednesday‚ used the opportunity to air their concerns about the “bad state” of Metrorail trains which were “chronically overcrowded”.
The memorandum said that workers were being injured and killed on their way to work because of this.
“We want the bosses of Metrorail to go to jail for endangering us‚” Ehrenreich told the crowd before demanding that safety measures should be increased on trains.
“The train system was already 70% overcrowded in 2005 when the last audit was done. Since then many more workers need to get into the industrial areas and the overcrowding became worse … due to the fact that the number of train sets have been reduced from 88 to 66 sets this year‚” read the memorandum.
Prasa regional manager Richard Walker accepted the scathing memorandum which also called for train tickets to be reduced by 50% because “only half of the service is available to commuters”.
“Sign! sign! sign!” the crowded screamed at Walker who gave an assurance that their demands would be looked at feedback would be provided.
“We are aware of the difficulties you face out there [on trains]‚” said Walker.
Ehrenreich then shouted: “Jy gan tronk toe!” (You are going to jail).
Cookie Nkambule‚ national treasurer of Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa‚ earlier in the day said that she was disappointed at President Jacob Zuma.
Joining marchers in Cape Town she said: “We are tired of what is happening in the country with the lack of employment and constant retrenchment of workers.
“Today we are also addressing the issue of state capture … We cannot have a corrupt president. He is being selfish when he was chosen to be father of the nation. He is using his presidency for his own benefits. We do not support his ex-wife’s bid to become the next president because that means he will still be president and we cannot have that‚” said Nkambule.
And in Durban thousands of marchers headed towards the City Hall just after noon. Cosatu expected 15‚000 people to shut down the city‚ but a realistic number of those attending was closer to 3‚000.
A significant presence of public order police monitored the slow moving crowd.
Source: TMG Digital.