UPDATE | PRASA guards down tools in Cape Town

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Over 200 security personnel working for the Chippa Academy security company, a service provider tasked to safeguard PRASA facilities in Cape Town, have downed tools over non-payment of salaries for two months.

Last December, the workers approached the media after they were not paid their November salaries.

The security company is owned by Chippa Mpengesi, owner of the soccer club, Chippa United.

More than 200 security workers from the Chippa Academy are tasked to maintain order at various train station platforms such as the Cape Town and to guard against rampant cable theft.

The stations include Koelberg House, Woodstock, Esplanade, Century, Monte Vista, Ysterplaat, Osteerze and Maitland.

The workers alleged that they constantly receive their salaries late and have not been paid for two months.

“We last got our salaries on the 21st of December. It affects us a lot because we cannot give money to our children for transport and pay rent. Here in Cape Town, we just live on mercy”.

“We want to know what the situation with our salaries of two months is. We couldn’t get our kids to school in January. We need our money.”

In a written statement to workers, the Chippa Academy says it is unable to pay salaries because PRASA had instituted penalties to the tune of R800 000 against the company and withheld its January invoice.

Mpengesi says the company has several issues with PRASA over payments and increase of salaries.

Unions representing the workers say there are a myriad of issues in the security sector and they have tried different avenues to get salaries paid.

Secretary of the South African Police and Allied Workers Union (SAPAWU), Mphangeli Jingqi says, “PRASA needs to come on board and protect people that are working in their environment because those people need to be protected. As much as those people are not in their payroll but they are working in their environment and they are the clients and a parastatal. But it seems they are in promoting the agenda of government of employing people within the rail environment. We are saying PRASA and the new Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga to please come on board,”

National Worker Security and Unqualified Workers Union (NASUWU), Wonga Mbawu adds, “On the 7th they called us and they said their chairman Mr Mpengesi wants to meet with us urgently. When we arrived at the meeting, we found Mr Mpengesi addressing the memo he issued to the employees saying that he is terminating the contract with the employees. Then we asked Mr Mpengesi if you are terminating the contract how are you going to pay these employees their increase from 2019. Their bonuses, their annual leaves from 2019, if you are terminating their contract. Then that means you have to pay their severance package. Then he just cut off on the zoom meeting”.

In a written response to SABC News, PRASA’s head of security, Alexio Papadopulo, says they strive to pay their security service providers on time and has been doing so.

EDITORIAL NOTE | Earlier copy did not reflect Chippa Mpengesi’s response.