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Manager, contractor in altercation

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“My instinct kicked in and I had to protect myself. The workers stood between us in order to stop the fight. I was told to ‘get out’ as I did not belong there.”

SORTING: The recycling and waste management site at SPU.Picture: Danie van der Lith

SECURITY was called to intervene following an altercation between a contractor and a Sol Plaatje University manager at the recycling and waste management site yesterday.

The incident is currently under investigation by the university.

According to the manager of the waste and recycling service provider, the maintenance manager allegedly pushed her and manhandled her when she enquired why he and a group of workers were switching the electricity on and off.

“The interruption in the electricity supply was affecting the operation of the machinery. I asked them how long they would be. I was never consulted when they entered the site. I was told that I was crazy. I was threatened that I did not know who I was dealing with as they did not need my permission to come onto the premises,” said the contractor.

She added that she had retaliated by kicking him and hitting him with a wooden plank.

“My instinct kicked in and I had to protect myself. The workers stood between us in order to stop the fight. I was told to ‘get out’ as I did not belong there.”

The contractor complained that the work station is not conducive to health and safety, where workers have resorted to sorting the waste outside the building.

“The premises have been inspected and I am waiting for a health and safety competency report to be released. About 20 workers, both males and females, are expected to share one toilet. The kitchen and office is situated amongst the bags of waste and rotting food, where we have to eat among the bad smells.”

She stated that they had approached management to partition off separate areas for the office, workplace and sorting area and to provide a designated kitchen and adequate bathrooms.

“The extractor fan makes a loud noise when it is switched on and it draws all the cold air inside. We requested that we be provided with alternative accommodation in May but the university wants us to be on site.”

The senior manager of communication and marketing at the Office of the Vice-Chancellor, Kashini Maistry, was yesterday unable to confirm whether any criminal charges had been opened.

“The assault incident is under investigation. We do not know the cause of the incident, at this stage. We have yet to ascertain the extent of any injuries that could have been sustained by any individual,” said Maistry.

She indicated that Sol Plaatje University had provided a space for the contractor on campus.

“The site complies with health and safety regulations. Ideally they should work from their own site. The contractor has complained that the recycling site on campus is too small – so the university is preparing another site for them.”

She stated that maintenance staff members were permitted to go anywhere on the university premises where they were required.

Maistry explained that separate male and female toilets were allocated to the staff at the Moroka building.

“Workers are also permitted to make use of any toilet at SPU while kitchen facilities were allocated at the Moroka building. There are also various eating areas available on campus.”

She said the waste and recycling contractor had been on site for over three years.

“The contract was renewed until the end of 2019.”