Bosasa workers turn to Correctional Services as firm sinks
Durban - Workers at African Global Operations (AGO), formerly known as Bosasa, have appealed to the Department of Correctional Services to employ them.
Three employees who work at Westville Prison said they were in limbo after AGO was liquidated this week.
AGO came under the spotlight during the State Capture Commission of Inquiry when the operation’s former chief financial officer, Angelo Agrizzi, alleged the company was involved in bribery and corruption.
FNB and Absa closed the company’s bank accounts last week, citing that the group posed a reputational risk. This led to the company filing for voluntary liquidation, which was granted this week. A total of 4500 employees will be affected by the liquidation.
The workers, who spoke to the Sunday Tribune and asked not to be named, said they have been ridiculed and marginalised since Agrizzi’s testimony.
One of the men, who has worked for Bosasa for more than 10 years, said all his colleagues were worried.
“We usually get paid between the 28th and 30th of the month. But on Thursday my phone beeped and I got an SMS that money was in my account. We got paid through a company called Cash Focus, we have not heard of them before. The early payment came as a surprise. Our concern is that should we spend the cash now our debit orders will be affected,” he said.
He said after the Bosasa debacle he had been inundated with calls from family and friends asking if his job was safe.
Another employee who has been with the company since 2015 and earned R4000 a month without bonuses said he felt cheated by the company he had served with dignity. He said prison officials were often gossiping about them shouting that here is the “corrupt Bosasa gang”.
“We have become a laughing stock. People forget we had nothing to do with corruption that took place at the top level. Our access has also been restricted. We are made to sign a form on each shift when we report to work. This has not happened before and only started after Agrizzi’s testimony. We are treated more like criminals,” he said.
The father of four said getting a transfer from Gauteng had given him hope for a better life.
He said there were only 12 Bosasa staff members working in the medium A prison in Westville, preparing meals for 3000 prisoners.
“Initially, I thought it was a great move to get prison work experience. But little did I know what I was getting myself into. While preparing food we mingle with hard-core criminals who do not hesitate grabbing a kitchen knife to stab someone crossing their path,” he said.
The third employee pleaded with the department to absorb them into the system if Bosasa’s contract got terminated.
“We have committed no crime but our jobs are on the line. We were used as pawns for corruption when bidding for tenders, officials would add ghost workers to exaggerate the number of employees while on the ground, we do not match that figure. We are also the victims of corruption,” he said.
Trade union South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers’ Union (Saccawu) provincial secretary Mathew Ndlovu confirmed that they were representing the workers at a national level.
“The idea is to save their jobs. We cannot afford to shed more jobs in the tough economic situation we find ourselves in. We need strong intervention from the Department of Correctional Services,” Ndlovu said.
Bosasa spokesperson Papa Leshabane said as he was no longer involved after the liquidator was appointed.
“I do not comment on behalf of the company any more after it was liquidated,” said Leshabane.