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Durban - Union officials are due to meet representatives of the SA Post Office tomorrow to seek help for the postman who is now facing a R40 000 hospital bill after being mauled by three boerboel dogs in Newcastle.
Forty-two-year-old Mandla Kunene was attacked by the dogs when he was delivering mail in the Signal Hill suburb last week.
He has since been discharged from the Medi Clinic Newcastle Hospital, but so far no one from the post office has agreed to sign his injury on duty (IOD) form which he needs to secure compensation and pay his medical bills.
Kunene has been employed by the post office as a contract worker for the past 10 years. His colleagues say they are paid 20 cents a mail item delivered to a street address, and 12c a mail delivered to a post box, and said their salaries did not exceed R3 000 a month.
The Daily News could not confirm the terms of Kunene’s contract last night, but it is believed to be similar to his contracted colleagues, which specifically frees the post office from “any responsibility or liability for any type of risk for loss, damage, injury or death to the contractor’s “employees or temporary substitutes or their property whilst rendering the services”.
Post office national spokes-man, Johan Kruger, said “a way forward” was yet to be found for Kunene and he could not comment further.
Department of Labour’s Compensation fund spokeswoman, Dikentsho Seabo, said the employer should submit an IOD claim form regardless of whether he was contracted or a permanent worker.
“In this case the post office would lodge a claim through the IOD application and the Compensation Fund would pay for the medical bills and compensate the worker depending on an assessment of the extent and the nature of the injuries suffered,” she said.
She said Kunene could submit his own claim form, but that an affidavit or a witness would be required to back up the claims that the incident happened during working hours.
Thami Mzileni, Communication Workers Union provincial secretary, confirmed an emergency meeting with the post office was scheduled for tomorrow when Kunene’s plight would be discussed as well as issues relating to the safety of all postmen.
Mzileni said the company must foot the medical bill and submit an IOD claim form to the workmen’s compensation fund.
Trade union Cosatu has criticised the post office’s handling of the incident.
Zet Luzipo, Cosatu’s provincial secretary, said the post office must take responsibility because Kunene was injured while on duty. He said Cosatu would intervene in the matter.
“The reality is that an IOD claim should have been submitted by now, regardless of whether he is a permanent worker or a shift worker.
“This is an IOD case, if they (employer) were serious enough about this matter, they would have reacted before this became an issue,” he said.
“It is their duty to take responsibility for what happened. Now it’s like they have to do this man a favour for what they have to do,” he said.
Luzipho said the issues in the Kunene matter were part of the reason that Cosatu has called for a ban on labour brokers and employment of workers on a contract basis.
He said to keep Kunene on contract for 10 years was a “cost saving” exercise by the employer. He said if Kunene was a permanent employer, there would be no discussions about who would be settling his hospital bill.
Medi Clinic Newcastle spokeswoman, Mariette Classen, confirmed Kunene had been discharged from hospital and said there were complications as to who would pay for his medical bill.
She said an injury on duty form had been submitted to the hospital upon his arrival, but said there were later complications with the IOD form regarding Kunene’s employment status.
“There was an IOD claim submitted, but there are complications on who will actually be paying. As far as we know for now, the family will be footing the bill,” she said.
Classen said Kunene would continue to be treated at the hospital and was expected today for the first of many repeat visits to his doctor who would monitor his condition and change his dressings.
Kunene’s brother, Zweli, said no one from the post office had agreed to sign the IOD form. “No one is saying we are responsible to pay, but I fear there is lots of treatment he has not received that he still requires,” he said.
Zweli said the police had not contacted the family since the incident happened last Tuesday.
When contacted, two other witnesses said they had not heard from police either.
Dog owner Erika Schultz, said her three boerboels were put down on Friday.
“I feel horrible, but there’s nothing I can do about the situation,” she said.
She had replaced the boerboels with a month-old Jack Russel.
Police had not made any contact with her either since the incident.
She could not be reached for comment yesterday.