While mostly acceptable for workers to snooze in public parks during their lunchtimes, the situation in Levubu with EPWP workers reclining on sidewalks at all hours of the day has residents becoming angrier. This situation was ongoing this week, as can be seen by this recent photo. Photo supplied.
Date: 17 November 2018 By: Jo Robinson
Last week, residents of Levubu were wondering why a group of workers had been spending most of every day for a long while lying down on sidewalks in front of private residences.
After being informed by the workers that they were waiting for their wages, which had not been paid, and that they were afraid that if they stayed at home they would be fired for desertion, concerned residents asked the newspaper to help these people.
On being contacted by the Zoutpansberger, all instantaneously became well as far as wages being paid was concerned. People had felt sympathy for the workers for being treated so badly. They were relieved when informed that, on being contacted by the newspaper, the apparently wrongly accused layabouts stated that they had not only received what was owed to them on that very day, but that the contract that they had been working on was over in Levubu.
Residents' relief that there would be no more people spending days supine in front of their houses was short-lived when Levubu resident Marli Beukes almost drove over a person who had been lying down too close to a driveway.
Angry and in shock, Beukes decided to take a photo of them and carried on driving. Suddenly, an angry group of people wearing the bright orange Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) overalls arranged themselves in front of her vehicle, forcing her to stop. One of them shouted at her that she was not allowed to take photos of them and physically tried to grab her cellphone from her hand as she sat in her car. They were not daunted by being informed that photographing anything you like in a public place was actually legal.
Marli managed to hold on to her phone, but the mob harassed her until she had deleted the photo of them before they would let her leave. Shaken and upset by this threatening and violent incident, Beukes informed the Zoutpansberger of this escalation of relations with EPWP workers who appear not to be doing any actual work.
Other angry residents have forwarded several photos of groups of people wearing EPWP overalls either sitting down, lying down, shopping, or walking along roadsides at times that are usually considered working hours. Now people want to know how the EPWP can operate in any meaningful way if workers affiliated to this programme are truthfully not living up to their side of the deal.
The basic aim of the EPWP is to create new jobs for six million people by the year 2019. To this noble end, the programme funds education and low-paying employment via contractors for municipal projects, for instance. While some might suggest that payment for the EPWP is below the minimum wage and they therefore might be quite right to lie down on the job, the point is that, without these projects, they would have no work at all. As well as being supplied with various perks, including free training and those bright orange work suits, they are being given opportunities to start careers, however humble they may appear to be. Without the EPWP, they would have no opportunities at all.
Levubu residents want to know who employs these workers and why. They also want to know whether, if they are employed, they should not be working during the day. People are not happy with these workers' sleeping on sidewalks, regardless of whom they work for. That information is still not forthcoming. If any readers do have any information as to who employs any of these people, please contact the Zoutpansberger.
Jo joined the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror in 2018 pursuing a career in journalism after many years of writing fiction and non-fiction for other sectors.