Impoverished workers barricade N2

The EPWP workers were last paid in January. All photos by Vincent Lali

Workers providing cleaning services to the City of Cape Town through an outsourced company have not been paid their February and March salaries.

Fed-up cleaners barricaded the N2 and Baden Powell Drive (R310) with burning tires and rubbish near Makhaza in Khayelitsha today. ‘’We shut down the busy roads because we want the City of Cape Town to respond to our demand for payment. We will continue to do so until we get a response,’’ said Masixole Mtyida.

The cleaners are demanding that they be paid their salaries. Those from six wards in Khayelitsha say they have not been paid their salaries for two months. They work under the Extended Public Works Programme of the City of Cape Town through a contracted company, Mbolompo Property Specialist. The cleaners demonstrated outside Khayelitsha Training Centre on Monday when last month they protested outside the City of Cape Town offices in Khayelitsha.

“The city is making us
slaves here”

Mtyida, who works as a supervisor, said: ‘’We are here to demand that the City of Cape Town pay us monies that we already worked for over a period of two months. “I have been working since January without taking a single day off. I motivated cleaners to work hard, so now they complain to me about non-payment,” he said. They have not been paid their February and March salaries. ‘’Who can work for two months without pay?” he asked. “The city is making us slaves here.’’

Mtyida said the recent strong winds damaged some cleaners’ shacks and they can’t rebuild or repair them because they have not been paid. ‘’I struggle to survive and support my family. My kids have stopped attending crèche because I can’t pay their fees,’’ he said.

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The workers say blocking the roads with rubble is the only way to get the authorities to act.

Thandeka Pambaniso, who supports four kids, said she started work in January but got paid for only three days. “When I landed the job, I thought my life would improve and sent my kids to the crèche,’’ she said. The non-payment has forced her to stop her kids attending the crèche because she has no money for transport to take them there. ‘’I’m depressed. My kids cry for food, but I can’t feed them. I beg for food from my relatives,’’ she said.

Pambaniso said she owes mashonisas about R1,500. “I lock myself inside my shack to avoid meeting mashonisas because I have no money to pay them,” she said.

Nosakhe Sebenzile said she struggles to provide for her five kids and her three cats. ‘’My kids and my cats are hungry, but I have no money to buy them food because I have not been paid my salary for two months,’’ she said. “I was heartbroken this morning when my son asked me to give him R5 to buy something to eat at school because I didn’t have it.”

She shares a pair of
flops with her son

The city owes her about R7,000. “Once I get the money, I will use it to pay my debts and buy food,” she said. Since she has no money to buy herself shoes, she shares a pair of flops with her son. “I wear the flops while my son is at school and take them off and hand them to him when he returns.”

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Because she has not been paid for two months, she can’t buy her son a school track suit. Sebenzile said: “It’s winter now. My son gets cold at school because he has no track suit.”

In the meantime,
the city will provide the
services directly

The City of Cape Town told Elitsha that Mbolompo Property Specialist breached the contract it had with the city and it was now terminated. The city said it has appointed another contractor which will start soon and in the meantime, the city will provide the services directly.

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