Durban – Support staff at the Durban Magistrate’s Court returned to their work stations yesterday afternoon following their earlier refusal to continue working until they had been provided with hand sanitisers and gloves.
When the Daily News went to the court, support staff, including stenographers and interpreters, were seated outside the building.
One of the employees said Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng on Tuesday announced that courts should continue operating; however sanitisers and gloves should be provided.
“We work with people who come in and out of the court. We were not prepared to work unless we were protected,” they said.
National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) provincial secretary Ayanda Zulu said the directive should have been followed.
“There must be hygiene to avoid transmission. In court, papers are passed from one person to the next all the time. Sometimes people who come into the court daily exceed 100,” he said.
Zulu added that the union had also received similar complaints from their members within the departments of Social Development and Home Affairs as well as the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) in KwaZulu-Natal.
Late on Wednesday, the Daily News learnt from Zulu that the support staff demands had been met and they were back at their workstations.
Social Development spokesperson Mhlaba Memela said the department had formed a steering committee that was working on the provision of support to all workers.
“The team has been meeting every day to work on interventions in ensuring that all workers are provided with the necessary hygiene resources in all districts in the province. In offices where these are not yet available, those areas will be covered very soon,” he said.
Home Affairs provincial manager Cyril Mncwabe denied that hand sanitisers and gloves had not been provided and added that he had not received any such complaint.
“Offices have been given permission to buy hand sanitisers using petty cash.”
Sassa provincial spokesperson Sandy Godlwana said that following a special regional management meeting on Tuesday, basic protective measures against the virus were being put in place.
“Protective gear was being procured for all Sassa staff with emphasis on bigger offices and offices with no water. Sassa and the South African Post Office (Sapo) have taken measures to manage the crowd convergence on payment days at Sassa and Sapo branches as well as cash paypoints,” said Godlwana.
She said the payment venues and offices would not accommodate more than 100 people at any given time.
“Sapo and Sassa will install strict measures to ensure that queue management is properly carried out. Big local offices and paypoints taking high numbers of clients will be prioritised.”