The Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Friday granted R1 000 bail to nine Tshwane Metro employees arrested for charges related to what is described as an unprotected strike.
The suspects, released after spending seven days behind bars, include Malesela Kutumela, Daniel Lenyai, Mpho Mokoena, Kgomotso Malapane, Jerry Mafuma, Kaizer Kgagane, Cosmos Pilusa and Richard Zihle.
All of them are facing charges of public violence and destruction of essential infrastructure – which pushed the bail application to schedule 5.
Their defence lawyer, Advocate Siyabulela Phendani, said the matter would go back to court on August 30, this year.
“The suspects were arrested on July 26 in the precinct Tshwane House,” Phendani said, adding that the arrest took place as they were waiting for the meeting, called by the municipality, to begin.
“My instruction was that they were not on a strike as they were attending the meeting called by the mayor on the day of the arrest.”
He cited that this happened amid a dispute between the employees and the employer over the 3.4% salary increment, which the city failed to implement at the end of July as per agreement.
Samwu condemns arrests
The South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) condemned the arrest and described it as a stunt to silence its members.
“Our workers were arrested for fighting for their rights,” acting SAMWU Regional Chairperson in Tshwane Ngwako Mathabatha said.
He said the dispute had erupted because of the city’s failure to implement the salary increment which had been in line with a collective agreement concluded in 2020.
“The city however applied for exemption, stating that it had no money to honour the agreement. We fought that in court and in the bargaining council. The matter is at labour court now.”
He said all they want from the city is the date it plans to pay them their increment.
The Tshwane Metro Mayor, Cilliers Brink, said there was an unprotected strike in the City of Tshwane and protesting employees intimidated those employees willing to work.
Strike leads to disruption of services
Brink said many communities were experiencing disruption of services in the city owing to the unprotected strike. He cited that affected services included delays in restoring electricity, water, and waste collection.
“It is not just that some officials refuse to work. It is that many are intimidating their colleagues violently preventing them from delivering their services,” Brink said.
He assured the residents that the city was not taking this “lying down”.
“Letters of warning have been issued to striking employees. The city has obtained contempt of court against some of the Union Leaders.”
He said the city issued 41 letters intending to dismiss employees who were on strike.
The city said there would be consequences for disrupted behaviour and criminality in the city.
In a twist, Mathabatha denied that SAMWU members were on strike.
“Workers are not on strike. They are standing outside Tshwane House to demand what is due to them.
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