24 May 2022
SAMWU troubled by the disappearance of workers during the KZN floods.
The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) in the KwaZulu Natal province is troubled and worried by the disappearance of two workers in Durban following the heavy rains experienced over the weekend. The two workers who are employees of the City of Ethekwini’s Water and Sanitation Department were last seen responding to a call out in the Verulam area on the afternoon of Saturday 21 May 2022.
Following the failure to locate the two workers, Verulam community members and fellow municipal employees embarked on a search and rescue mission which only recovered the municipal vehicle which the employees were driving in. Three days later, the workers have still not been located, thus leading us to fear the worst. The families of these workers are distraught at the fact that their loved ones have not been seen in three days.
We had hoped that the discovery of the municipal vehicle would provide clues and leads as to where the employees may be. This however has not been the case as the vehicle was recovered in a river in the Velum area without the employees in it.
As SAMWU, we are aggrieved that the City has neglected these employees, the City’s management has vanished into thin air during a time when they should be visible, showing leadership and assisting in locating these employees. The only thing that the City cares about is that their vehicle has been located and recovered. As the municipal vehicle is recovered, the City does not see the need to assist in locating these employees, thus placing the value of a vehicle over that of the lives of their employees.
Workers on their own have taken it upon themselves to locate the employees without the assistance of the City’s search and rescue teams. Despite the dereliction of their duties and obligations towards its employees, we will continue with the search and rescue operation as workers in the City with hopes and prayers that they are found to be safe.
We, therefore, call on workers and community members in the Verulam area to come together and assist in locating these employees and many other residents who have not been located since the devastating floods hit parts of KZN.
Despite the floods being a result of nature, we are of the view that the City should be playing a leading role in this operation. Furthermore, the City has an obligation towards its employees and as such, they should have been at the forefront of this operation, particularly given the fact that this tragedy happened during the cause of the employee executing their duties.
These devastating floods have exposed the unpreparedness and capability of the City to deal with disasters of this magnitude. We are of the view that the City should capacitate its search and rescue units to ensure that these workers and many other victims who remain unaccounted for are located to give closure to the families.
We trust, hope and pray that these employees and many other residents that are yet to be located are found safely.
Issued by SAMWU KZN
(065 871 8434)
Ethekwini Regional Secretary
(074 953 7412).