Another public sector union has threatened not to allow members who are prosecutors to be on duty in courts around the country due to lack of personal protective equipment (PPE).
The National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers (Nupsaw) on Saturday accused the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) of failing to provide PPE to prosecutors during the 21-day national lockdown declared by President Cyril Ramaphosa last month and which he extended by a further two weeks from Thursday.
According to Nupsaw, it will not compromise the safety of workers and will do everything in its power to protect them.
“Everything possible must be done to protect their safety. Nupsaw is calling for government oversight to ensure proper PPE is in place to protect workers at the NPA,” the union’s Kagiso Makoe.
He warned: “If the NPA can’t protect the workers, we cannot allow our members to go and get infected by the pandemic.”
Nupsaw said prosecutors have not been provided with masks, gloves and sanitizers to prevent them from contracting or spreading the deadly virus.
The union has complained that it has not received any response for the NPA after making attempts to discuss the lack of PPE at courts in East London, Queenstown, New Lock in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and Jansenville in the Eastern Cape.
Nupsaw wants prosecutors to be provided PPE with immediate effect.
Determination on Working Hours Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola has issued directions to address, prevent and combat the spread of COVID-19 stating that criminal courts will be open to preside over bail hearings and first applications while matters on the roll will be rescheduled and new dates communicated to the public.
Audio-visual remand technology at correctional centres will be to mitigate the need for persons in custody to appear in court.
Earlier this week, the country’s biggest public sector union, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu), got an undertaking from Health Minister Dr. Zweli Mkhize that no health worker will be forced or intimidated to work without proper and sufficient provision of PPE by any employer.
Mkhize also promised to ensure that management at institutions reviews all suspensions of workers and that there is no harassment related to shortages of the PPE.
Nehawu had hauled Mkhize, his department and Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi to the Labour Court demanding that health workers be provided with adequate PPE and not be forced to work in a risky environment.
By Loyiso Sidimba