It looks like it’s going to be a bleak Christmas for the families of dozens of workers who say they haven’t been paid for months.
But the owner of the company, Sikhumbuze Maqhubele, says the case is currently being heard by Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration and he will not comment on it until the process has concluded.
The affected workers are employed by Sikhumbuze Aborist and General Services, which does cleaning, tree and bush clearing, tree felling, and tree pruning.
The workers’ staff representative Ikho Mde said amounts owed to the workers varied from three months’ to a year’s pay.
Mr Mde, who met with Vukani with some other workers in Philippi, is one of hundreds of staff contracted to Sikhumbuze Arborist and General Services who have allegedly not been paid.
“The reason has been bedtime stories like, he has not been paid by Emakhazeni municipality in Mbombela, Mpumalanga. But at some point we found out he was just lying to us,” Mr Mde said.
“As we speak, many people have resigned but he employed others. He has a contract with the City of Cape Town and we have alerted the City about his shenanigans but the City told us it had nothing to do with it. They pay him,” he said.
When Vukani queried this, the City said according to its records, the company has been paid in full for work carried out for them, with the most recent payment to the company having been made on Monday November 21.
“The City does not have a record of complaints against the company, but encourages residents to approach it by contacting the Supply Chain Management Department should they have any concerns about any City contractor,” it told Vukani, adding that it does not have an active tender with the specific company for tree pruning.
“This man has caused a lot of damage to the lives of us. But our worry is that it is still operating using other people. He seems to be an untouchable man of God.”
Nomasondo Qangule is from Mpumalanga and is worried that she won’t be able to go home this festive season after having not been paid for months.
Another former worker, Nompumelelo Mandi, said she worked seven days a week cleaning in Mitchell’s Plain but had not been paid.
The workers, who are from Delft, Khayelitsha, Philippi and other areas, said they had even gone to their employer’s home in Brackenfell but had left without getting to see him.