DURBAN - YET another staff member from the eThekwini Municipality’s water unit has been shot dead.
The worker was shot in the Folweni area, near uMlazi, on Tuesday night. The circumstances leading to the shooting are unclear, but The Mercury has learnt from a municipal workers’ union that the worker was on duty or had just responded to a call when he was shot.
Furthermore, sources in the municipality said the official was shot inside his municipal vehicle. The vehicle has since been towed to the water unit at the Springfield depot.
The worker has not been identified publicly. He is the third worker to be shot dead while on duty in the past four months.
In February, Amos Ngcobo was shot dead in his office in Springfield Road, while Phumzile Qatha was shot dead at an eThekwini Municipality water tanker depot in Ottawa last month.
Also this month, two security guards who were accompanying staff members from the electricity unit, were shot dead and robbed of their firearms in KwaMashu.
The shooting has ratcheted up pressure on the municipality to improve security. The Mercury has previously reported on the huge security concerns for city workers.
City officials said they were already spending money on security guards to escort workers to certain parts of the city and they no longer attended to faults at night in certain areas due to security concerns.
The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) said they held the municipality accountable for the security of its staff when they were on duty.
Xolani Dube of Samwu said they were still gathering details on the incident.
“We have received reports that the worker was shot in the township.
“At the moment we still do not know what led to the shooting, whether it was criminality or any other reason,” he said.
“This incident is very troubling, the workplace is supposed to be safe for the workers and it falls on the employer to make sure that all workers are safe. There are many workers, especially in the water unit, that have lost their lives.”
Municipal spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said: “We can confirm that a municipal employee was shot dead in the Folweni area, at the moment we do not know what led to the shooting and the concerned worker was on standby and was heading home at the time of the incident.
“The mayor sends his condolences to the family and calls on the police to leave no stone unturned in unmasking those behind this heinous crime. The loss of one worker is equivalent to losing many workers because of the value and the expertise they bring.”
Mayisela said the city was concerned about the killing of its staff members, saying while the motive behind the killings were unclear, the incidents were unsettling for municipal staff.
“The killing of municipal staff members is concerning, there is no organisation that would not be concerned with the consecutive killings of its staff members, the municipality however relies on the law-enforcement agencies to bring those responsible to book,” said Mayisela.
IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said he was not aware of the latest incident, but the “things we keep seeing happening especially in the water department are shocking”.
“They point to the fact that there is a serious problem in the unit that should not be ignored or it will escalate.
“An investigation should be conducted as to what is going on there and truths should be laid bare because these killings are damaging the image of the municipality. At this rate we’re going to lose count of how many workers have been killed.”
Nkosi said those behind the killings should stop because it was not the solution to any problems.
DA councillor Thabani Mthethwa said the city was recovering from a disaster and city workers were all expected to be on the ground helping to restore services, “which is not possible if these workers are being attacked”.
“We urge all community members to protect the workers from criminals. It is not possible for every municipal vehicle to be escorted by security when they are attending to service delivery issues in communities,” he said.