Some of the recruits who were trained to work on the City’s War on Leaks programme, but haven’t been given any work.Picture: Bongani Shilulbane/ANA
JAMES MAHLOKWANE

NEARLY 100 young people recruited and trained to repair water leaks by the City of Tshwane said they had spent the entire year earning a stipend without doing any work.

They blamed “sluggish” municipal officials for wasting their youth and tying their hands. The group has marched has to numerous public service offices, including Tshwane House, but their memorandum was not accepted as they had not made proper arrangements.

These men and women said they were recruited ahead of the 2014 elections by War on Leaks as in-service trainees who would be trained to become qualified artisans. War on Leaks was part of the Tshepo 5000 initiative to create employment opportunities for the youth.

The group said they had, over the past few yearsnwaited for the War on Leaks programme to materialise into what was promised, but it never did.

They said they had been signing one short-term contract after another since the programme started losing direction in 2015.

“This year, we have not done any work and have not undergone proper training. We just stayed at home and received a R2500 stipend,” one of them told the Pretoria News.

Safira Leoane, 38, from Mamelodi, said the programme had ruined their lives because R2 500 was not enough to live on. She said she could not join other programmes since all recruits already had a City pay-number which blocked them from accessing certain opportunities initiated by the metro.

Sarah Masitla, also from Mamelodi, said: “This issue breaks my heart because I quit my previous job as I did not have qualifications, and viewed this opportunity as a life changer. I thought I would become a qualified artisan. Today, we are older than 35 and cannot apply to become police officers or traffic officers.”

They said they believed that if they did not approach public service offices numerous times over the years they would probably still be sitting at home doing nothing and not even earning a stipend.

The group members said they were now under a 12-month contract that came with a R500 adjustment to their previous R2 000 stipend. They believed their latest contract was probably offered just to shut them up.

One emotional protester, who asked not to be named, said she was heartbroken by what had transpired. Things took a depressing turn when she could not be allocated to a low cost house she had long waited for, because she appeared as an employee of the city on the system, she said.

Because of their resilience and unending nagging, they were appointed to an unaccredited service provider to train them in 2015, they said. They claim to have received only statements of results for level four plumbing and civic construction and building.

“All we received were those statements of results. We have not received any certificates for that training. Basically the City uses us over the festive season when permanent employees go on holiday. Other than that our hands are tied,” Masitla said.

Head of Utility Services in the office of the city manager, Stephens Notoane, said War on Leaks was aimed at training recruits so that they could become qualified artisans. However, that was placed on hold in September last year owing to the appointment of the service provider having lapsed.

Notoane said the water and sanitation division had already initiated a process of appointing a new service provider, but it took longer than anticipated. The services provider was eventually appointed in September this year, Ntoane said.

The water and sanitation division was finalising the service level agreement with the new service provider, he said, after which the project would proceed. It is anticipated that the agreement will be finalised before month-end.

Notoane said the the division was scheduling a meeting with the recruits so that logistics related to the project could be finalised.