Hundreds of security guards sent home without wages after Eastern Cape health department fails to pay contractors

Department promises to make payments from April, the start of the new financial year

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Security guards at Livingstone Tertiary Hospital in Gqeberha and other hospitals and clinics in the Eastern Cape have not been paid after the Department of Health failed to pay contractors. Photo: Thamsanqa Mbovane

Security companies contracted to the Eastern Cape Department of Health could not pay guards this month.

The cash-strapped department has been in trouble with security contractors stationed at clinics and hospitals in the Eastern Cape since January.

Earlier this year GroundUp reported that Xhobani Security Services could not pay salaries. The department owes Xhobani about R3-million. Last week, managers at Silver Solutions informed hundreds of security guards that their salaries would be paid late this month. The guards are stationed at clinics and hospitals in Nelson Mandela Bay municipality, Queenstown and in the King Williams town area.

GroundUp visited Korsten Primary Healthcare Clinic premises, which also houses the Livingstone Tertiary Hospital in Gqeberha.

Security guard Elbridge Swarts is a father of four and is worried about what will happen to his family over the long Easter weekend. “My family is angry, and so am I… Why must I be nice? I must pay R1,200 rent per month, transport for this month, and one of my sons is staying in a hostel that needs to be paid too,” he said.

“If I had been informed in time, I would have made arrangements … It’s Easter weekend and it’s going to be a bleak one.”

Department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo told GroundUp that payments to service providers, including the security companies, would start next month.

The Private Sector Workers Trade Union (PSWTU) spokesperson Malibongwe Kayiyana said the union would lodge a dispute with the department at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

He said the PSWTU would fight to have the guards paid before mid-April. “There are about 1,000 guards at Eastern Cape government institutions that have not been paid. We are taking the department to the CCMA,” he said.

TOPICS:  Health Labour

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