Health department fails to pay security contractor, leaving guards without salaries

Company says it can’t pay guards until it receives R3-million it is owed

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A security guard controls access at the new main gate at Laetitia Bam Day Hospital in KwaNobuhle, Kariega, on Wednesday. Photo: Thamsanqa Mbovane

Dozens of security guards working at hospitals and clinics in Nelson Mandela Bay are still waiting to be paid their January salaries by their former employer. The company, Xhobani Security Services, says it can’t pay until the provincial Department of Health pays its outstanding debt of R3-million.

Xhobani Security Services ended its contract with the department in February, a month early.

The company said that it had no “financial muscle” to render further service.

Some guards embarked on a brief protest but returned to work under a month-to-month contract for a different company, Tekhu Security Services.

Last week, Xhobani paid outstanding salaries to guards working at the Uitenhage Provincial Hospital in Kariega. But guards at several clinics, including Laetitia Bam Day Hospital and clinics at Nomangesi Jayiya, Middle Street, Rosedale and others have not been paid.

A guard at Laetitia Bam who wanted to remain anonymous said, “This is not fair that only certain security guards have been paid.”

General manager for Xhobani Security Services, Carl Lonn, confirmed that only the guards at Uitenhage Provincial Hospital had been paid. He said on Wednesday his company is still waiting for payment from the Department of Health. “We are now owed just under R3-million.”

National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) regional secretary Samkelo Msila blamed the department’s failure to pay suppliers on mismanagement of financial resources.

Eastern Cape health spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said: “This particular company [Xhobani] chose to abandon the site.”

“The contract between Xhobani and the department ended in November 2023 prompting a month-to-month contract, and in January 2024 the company withdrew from the month-to-month contract.

“At the beginning of February 2024 the department paid them the December 2023 invoice.”

“The company refused to submit January invoices sighting legal advice, otherwise we were ready to pay for their January invoice. Now they will be paid in April 2024.”

Informed of the comment, Lonn said, “They must just pay … We did not abandon sites. We simply told them we cannot continue without being paid.”

TOPICS:  Health

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