Ports and Harbours of South Africa: Port Cities in South Africa, Cape Town, Mossel Bay, Durban, Port Elizabeth, East London, Eastern Cape
Port Cities in South Africa, Cape Town, Mossel Bay, Durban, Port Elizabeth, East London, Eastern…
Johannesburg – The Public Servants Association (PSA) on
Wednesday condemned the suspension of 122 prison officials in Port Elizabeth
for an alleged illegal gathering.
Growing safety concerns at St Albans Prison, where recent
violent attacks by inmates left several warders seriously injured, resulted in
the PSA calling a members’ meeting last week at the prison, the union said in a
PSA deputy general manager Manie de Clercq said:
“Management granted approval for the PSA meeting and… was requested to
address the meeting.
“When they failed to comply with the request, the
members approached the management area in an orderly manner to again request
After management failed to address them, the PSA members
dispersed and returned to their stations, where they were later confronted and
The 122 PSA members had since received notices to attend
a disciplinary hearing from 18 March to 22 March.
The association blamed the current safety situation on
the 2009 introduction by the correctional services department of varying shift
models, to save costs on overtime payments.
“No collective agreement permits the averaging of
working hours. Despite this, the department implemented shift systems contrary
to the Basic Conditions Employment Act,” said De Clerq.
“This resulted in severe under-staffing and in 2012
the DCS further cut the already-pressured establishment by more than 10%.”
No quick solution
The association said it had raised the issue with both
the national commissioner and Parliament’s correctional services portfolio
The department later admitted that 18 000 new employees
would need to be appointed to adequately address the situation, said the PSA.
“There is no quick solution to this problem which is
rooted in a severe staff shortage,” said De Clercq.
“In the face of this, the ill-considered decision by
the DCS to suspend 122 employees, who were acting within their rights, is set
to impact on a highly volatile situation.”
This would have safety implications for other employees,
inmates and even the public, believed De Clercq.
DCS regional spokesperson Zama Feni said: “The
department will not be able to comment on the matter as proceedings are
underway, with the hearing to start on 18 March.”