NPOs among victims as social development staff clock two years without a desk

Almost two years since the social development department’s offices in the Beacon Hill building near Zwelitsha closed down because of safety concerns, officials are still working from their vehicles.
Almost two years since the social development department’s offices in the Beacon Hill building near Zwelitsha closed down because of safety concerns, officials are still working from their vehicles.
Image: SUPPLIED

Almost two years since the social development department’s offices in the Beacon Hill building near Zwelitsha closed down because of safety concerns, officials are still working from their vehicles.

Union Nehawu has now entered the fray, complaining service to the public is suffering as a result and this frustrates staff.

Nehawu called for a proper and permanent building that will meet all the National Occupational Safety Association (Nosa) standards.

A number of non-profit organisations have not been paid or received their monthly grants.

Social development confirmed the challenges, saying the department of public works in the province was assisting in finding a building for them.

Nehawu regional secretary Mlu Ncapayi said it was time to engage social development MEC Siphokazi Mani-Lusithi and her HoD, Ntombi Baart.

Mani-Lusithi's spokesperson, Lufefe Mkutu, said they were not in a position to say when the department was likely to get back into an office building as it depended on public works.

He said he was unaware of employees working at the back of their vehicles. “There are working arrangements approved as part of the Covid-19 regulations,” he added.

He confirmed the situation was impacting on service delivery and some NPOs had not been serviced.

Twenty departmental staffers, working from home since February 2019 when toxic formaldehyde gas leaked into their offices, turned to the courts earlier this month to stop the department from suddenly docking their salaries during lockdown.

Granting the interdict, the high court in East London slammed the department, saying the salary deductions threatened the staff members’ financial integrity, creditworthiness and ability to support dependents.

Estimate is that in 30 days time the project will be complete

Public works & infrastructure spokesperson Vuyokazi Mbanjwa confirmed their mandate was to provide office accommodation for provincial departments.

“Since the move out of the Beaconhill building, social development employees were accommodated in various state-owned buildings in Bhisho and King William's Town, though not all employees could be accommodated. The department went for open tender after the emergency route for office accommodation was disapproved,” said Mbanjwa.

She said one bid was received, approved and awarded to the landlord for 5,000m² for social development. “Social development has already signed off the spatial layout plan and the landlord has commenced with plans for implementation of the tenant installations. Estimate is that in 30 days time the project will be complete,” she added.

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