War on Leaks programme under fire

Young people hired by the War on Leaks programme and they have all raised concerns about it.

A group of young people who are part of the the War on Leaks programme have accused the Department of Water and Sanitation of paying them far less than they had been promised and not employing them permanently despite having promised to do so.

The department, however, denied this and said there was never a promise of permanent employment.

The disgruntled project participants claimed that the department had offered them monthly salaries of R6 500 to work as plumbers and artisans.

They also claimed that they were offered permanent job placements. However, they said, the department had failed to make good on these promises.

The group, from various areas across Cape Town, forms part of a nationwide War on Leaks programme, spearheaded by the department.

The initiative is a joint venture between the department and Rand Water, started in 2015.

It is aimed at fixing water leaks while creating job opportunities for unemployed youth.

Participants were apparently promised work at various municipal facilities for a three-year period.

Daluxolo Naki, who is employed by the programme, said they were shocked when they were paid only R2 500. He said others were paid R2 000.

He said when they raised their grievances with the relevant authorities, they were told they should quit if they were no longer interested.

While some did quit, others stayed because they needed the income.

Mr Naki said they spent the first year of the programme attending classes and were promised certificates. But they never received them.

He said what made this worse is that some of the participants had left their permanent work with the hope of landing a better job.

“We want our certificates,” he said, adding that they also wanted to be paid what they were promised.

“We have been victimised and the programme has dismally failed to do what it had aimed to do.

“We have raised our complaints about the deduction of our salaries but no one has provided us with a reasonable explanation.

“Our term is going to come to an end in July and yet we have not received our certificates. How can I provide the basic needs for my family with the peanuts that I’m earning. And there is no hope that we will be employed.”

Another worker, Xolisa Ngwekazi, said he and nine others had been placed at the City of Cape Town’s depot in Wynberg.

They were then asked to train another intake of 10 to fix leaking pipes.

While these people were subsequently employed, Mr Ngwekazi and the nine he started with, were not.

Meanwhile project participants have used the War on Leaks Facebook page to vent their frustration about late payments, deductions and job placements.

Department of Water and Sanitation spokesperson, Sputnik Ratau, said the department was not aware of any programme participants being offered R6 500.

While the participants had demanded that amount, it had been made clear to them that government would not revise the stipend to meet their demands, he said.

He also emphasised that the participants had been offered a stipend and not a salary because they were not employed but being trained towards a particular qualification. There was also no provision for an annual increase in the stipend in the agreements entered into with the students.

“No participants have completed their three-year programme as yet. Certificates will be issued once learners have completed their training in all institutions of higher learning and no commitments of job placement after the training were made,” he said.