National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) Polokwane branch Secretary, Jeshrey Sijhn and five fellow members were arrested this morning and face among others charges of false imprisonment, public violence, obstruction of justice, assault of a Police officer, resisting arrest and crimen injuria after they allegedly locked in MEC for Public Works, Roads and Infrastructure, Jerry Ndou at the departmental building in Church Street.
At 13:40 they were still in custody.
Tension ran high this morning when, at about 07:30, Nehawu members used chains and locks to lock the doors thereby barring employees from entering the building. Nehawu demanded answers to a memorandum handed to the department almost three weeks ago. Police were called to the scene and found the front as well as back exit doors to have been chained and locked.
Polokwane Police Head of Communications, Nthobeng Phala reported that Police cut the chain from the doors to discover Ndou and acting Head of Department (HOD), Kate Machaba had been locked inside the building. “After Police broke the chains, violence erupted and members of Nehawu started fighting with Police. They also pushed and shoved, assaulted them, pelted them with objects and hauled insults at the Police on the scene,” Sijhn was adamant to have Ndou address them and provide reasons to why the union’s memorandum was not responded to. “We need answers. He cannot keep hiding from us,” she said, adding that the union recently raised its concerns about alleged maladministration, avoidance, neglect and ill-treatment by management which adversely affect conditions of service of their members,” she said
The memorandum to Ndou read: “Nehawu has on numerous occasions tried to draw your office’s attention towards resolving these issues but our pleas have fallen on deaf ears. We are particularly disturbed by the nonchalant and apathetic attitude displayed by your office in trying to find solutions to these important challenges that have the potential of collapsing this department which is already in a state of emergency.”
It further listed the union’s demands including that the acting HOD and General Manager be removed from their positions; seven members who are data capturers from the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) be absorbed in the structure; an urgent audit be conducted in the ICT department; all posts filled from March 2015 be nullified as management did not adhere to the departmental recruitment and selection policies and that answers be given to various suspended employees and their suspension been uplifted.