A GROUP of about 45 MK veterans have occupied the boardroom in the fisheries department where they claim they will stay until the department renews their contracts to carry out anti-poaching patrols in the Overstrand.
“We’ve got water to drink from the toilet and we will sleep here until (acting fisheries head) Desmond Stevens comes to talk to us. He is running away now. They promised they would deploy us permanently and now our contracts are ended,” Lindelekile Ngquifha said yesterday.
The veterans were trained as anti-poaching officers in 2009 and the project was launched in May 2010 by President Jacob Zuma and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson.
Arthur Sidina, another MK veteran, said yesterday: “We need the minister to intervene now. Mr Desmond Stevens, acting DDG (deputy director-general), terminated our contracts. We got paid for June and he told us the contracts were terminated for July, just temporarily, because he is preparing documents.
“When we came to his office previously he said it would be sorted out in two weeks. Now it is five months. We are not violent but he sent the police here to take us out. We explained to the police and they understood. A chief director has assisted us but he said he cannot give us any answer because it is Desmond Stevens who is the head. We won’t go until Desmond Stevens comes here,” Sidina said.
The veterans say Joemat-Pettersson had promised them that, within six months of doing anti-poaching work, they would be absorbed into the department.
“Daff (Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) must intervene. Now the sea is completely open. People are diving as it pleases them,” Sidina said.
Joemat-Pettersson’s spokeswoman, Palesa Mokomele, was not available for comment.
Alieya Haider, acting spokesman for fisheries, said yesterday the department and Stevens had been in “regular consultation” with the MK group and their organisations.
The department had signed an agreement with the Department of Military Veterans to “establish a special purpose vehicle” to employ the MK veterans and Stevens had called an urgent meeting with it to resolve the matter.