Unions that represent the police, prison officials, and traffic officers have complained the government has not provided them with sufficient protection against the COVID-19 coronavirus, reported the City Press.
“The employer seems reluctant to provide protective gear, they cannot be saying that the SA Police Service is failing to get masks and sanitisers,” said Tumelo Mogodiseng, general secretary of the SA Police Union (SAPU).
Mogodiseng highlighted an example in Limpopo, where he claims traffic officers have had nothing with which to protective themselves against the virus.
“As SAPU, we are worried because everyone should be covered to make sure that we are safe before we can protect society at large,” said Mogodiseng.
Unions left out of discussions
A joint statement by the Public Servants Association of South Africa (PSA), the SA Cabin Crew Association, and the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) said they were also confused as to why Minister of Public Service and Administration Senzo Mchunu had not informed them about the lockdown before making it public.
“We really believe that with our inputs we would have seen a smooth transition into the lockdown,” said Reuben Maleka, assistant general manager of the PSA.
He said that correctional services officials are claiming they don’t have sanitisers, masks, or protective gear at their centres.
Maleka added that these claims were primarily originating from KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo.
Correctional services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said the department was focused on prevention, containment, treatment, and recovery.
Intervention measures include screening, improved hygiene, provision of equipment, and decontamination.
“These intervention aspects depend heavily on behavioural change and adaptation on the part of officials, inmates and anyone else who visits our correctional facilities and administrative offices,” Nxumalo said.
“The urgent procurement of necessary equipment products and other resources… has been effected in order to enable the various sections of the department to respond appropriately.”
Mchunu, responded to complaints that unions had not been notified of the shutdown, said that as the pandemic was an emergency, there had not been enough time to consult with unions.
Mchunu recommended that workers make use of the open communication opportunity between unions and government, and encouraged workers to speak to their supervisors.
There are currently 1,187 confirmed cases of coronavirus in South Africa.
Gauteng has the most cases at 533, followed by the Western Cape on 271 and KwaZulu-Natal on 156.
“We must outrightly state that these numbers do not indicate a reduction in the number of infections,” said Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.
Instead, these numbers are a reflection of positive results that were received, verified and ready for reporting.
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases said it is cleaning COVID-19 patient data to ensure the information is verified and accurate.
“Figures may not always add up sequentially due to the activities being performed with regard to data cleaning and quality assurance of the dataset.”