Monthly Archives: August 2013

SAAT calls off wage talks with Satawu

Pretoria: Wage talks with the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) have been called off, South African Airways Technical (SAAT) said.

SAAT, which is the maintenance subsidiary of South African Airways (SAA), said wage negotiations with the union have been called off with immediate effect.

Union members have been on strike since Monday.

“The decision to call off the negotiations is a result of the striking Satawu members’ disregard of the picketing rules and intensified unruly behaviour,” said SAAT on Thursday.

There had been an “erratic act of intimidation”, trespassing and damage to property.

SAAT said that on Thursday, close to 150 Satawu members had been picketing outside of the SAAT entrance. A group of striking workers then embarked on a ‘drive slow’ on Jones Road, which leads to SAA and SAAT premises.

“Occasionally, the group would park their vehicles in the road, thus negatively affecting traffic flow on Jones Road. This has had a temporary effect on the access to the two entities. Alternative access points have been arranged,” said SAAT.

SAA’s Group Security Department has also received reports of severe intimidation of motorists and alleged assault of members of the public and employees of the company. The company said it will take the necessary disciplinary steps in dealing with these incidents.

SAAT has successfully applied for an interdict, which will strengthen the law enforcement agencies’ ability in dealing with any acts of criminality associated with the picketers.

“This behaviour by Satawu protesters is unacceptable and SAAT management cannot continue to engage with the union until such time that the union ends disobedience of picketing rules. This disorderly behaviour, which is directed at innocent members of the public and employees of the company, is a clear act of desperation by Satawu,” said SAAT.

The strike action has had no noticeable impact on SAAT and SAA’s operations.

Contingency plans put in place will continue to be in place in order to ensure minimal if any disruptions to airline operations.

To date, SAA flight delays as a direct result of the strike have on average been three per day.

On Wednesday, SAA concluded a wage deal with the Aviation Union of Southern Africa (AUSA).

AUSA represents a large portion of engineers and technical staff at SAAT.

The wage agreement is for a period of one year. The settlement entails 6.5% on total cost to company; a 0.5% once-off payment and a further 1% increase for technicians flowing from the previous year’s wage agreement.

Angolan refugees return home

Pretoria: The second group of Angolan refugees, who voluntarily opted to go back home following the cessation of refugee status for Angolans, left South Africa this morning.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Home Affairs officials and Angolan government officials saw them off today.

Home Affairs Deputy Minister Fatima Chohan on Thursday said about 60% of the 6 900 Angolan refugees who were in the country have approached the department to regularise their asylum status.

Chohan said 56% applied to resume their Angolan citizenship, while a smaller unspecified number have asked for their refugee status to be protected.

Many Angolan nationals took refuge in South Africa and other countries when a civil war broke after Angola gained its independence from Portugal in 1975.

After the war ended in 2002, the UNHCR announced to its member states in 2009 that following the end of Angola’s civil war, and with that country’s economy showing signs of growth with hints of political stability, that the refugee status of Angolans be withdrawn.

Of the 6 900 refugees that are on the Home Affairs system, 1 700 of them are dependents. Chohan said while they may be dependents of refugees who were born in South Africa and may feel that their entire lives are in this country, the law stipulated that children of refugees will, in that event, take up their parents’ refugee status.

N Cape women-led roadblock commended

Pretoria: The women-driven roadblock, held in the Northern Cape, has been hailed as an initiative that sends a strong message that women are ready to provide a lasting solution to road fatalities.

As part of events to mark the closure of Women’s Month, the provincial Department of Transport, Safety and Liaison had a roadblock led by female traffic officers, known as operation Natifisa Pharakanyo, on the R31 Mataleng Crossing in Barkley West on Thursday.

A taxi driver stopped during the operation, George Damoense, said: “The female traffic officers’ roadblock will help to send a clear message to us as motorists that female traffic officers are also ready to provide a lasting solution to road fatalities.

“We appreciate the women-driven operation, as it encourages people to comply with the law and would like to see the operation of its nature unfold regularly.”

His sentiments were echoed by Portia Mthembu, who was also stopped during the operation.

“The magnitude of this operation … shows the seriousness of the message that the women in law enforcement wanted to convey … I hope this operation will encourage other road users to respect and honour female traffic officers.”

The department’s communication officer, Keitumetse Moticoe, said the roadblock was aimed at celebrating women in law enforcement, as well as to show road users that female traffic officers also serve with honour and excellence.

The operation was in collaboration with the Department of Transport, Safety and Liaison, South African Police Service (SAPS), Home Affairs’ immigration unit and Women against Crime in Barkley West.

The routine inspection operation stopped and checked 224 vehicles for roadworthiness, driver fitness, licences, stolen items, illegal immigrants and illegal substances.

During the operation, nine illegal immigrants were arrested, eight traffic fines issued and 300 pamphlets distributed.

Moticoe said the department also hoped to encourage road users to abide by the rules of the road and respect all law enforcement officers.

“Road users should remember to always buckle up, not to drink and drive or walk, to be cautious on the road and to exercise patience at all times,” she said.

One of the female officers at the roadblock, Constable Keneilwe Molutsi of the SAPS, said: “This operation gives us an opportunity as women in law enforcement to show that it is not only our male colleagues who can do this job with pride and excellence, but [we as women] can do it too.”

Traffic officials on high alert ahead of ZCC pilgrimage

Polokwane: Limpopo law enforcement officers will be on high alert as millions of Zion Christian Church (ZCC) members descend on Moria for their September pilgrimage this weekend.

“Throngs of ZCC members are expected to make their way into the borders of this province, which will lead to high traffic volumes on all our major routes,” said provincial Roads and Transport Department spokesperson, Joshua Kwapa on Thursday.

“The department will, however, deploy traffic officers to all our priority routes to ensure that there are no impediments and/or congestions which are unattended.”

Kwapa said the prioritsed routes are the N1 Maubane to Makhado, R521 Dendron road, R71 Polokwane to Tzaneen, R101 Polokwane to Bela Bela and R36 Tzaneen to Mashishing (formerly Lydenburg).

He said that traffic officers will be working extended hours mainly to ensure that they intensify visibility as well as law enforcement.

“Traffic officers will also be working in partnership with members of the South African Police Service to further heighten visibility on our roads.

“In order to provide efficient law enforcement, the department will also deploy its material resources to maximise operations,” Kwapa said.

Kwapa said the department would deploy high-tech moving violation recorders at identified hazardous areas in the province. Roving speed checks will also be undertaken at various key strategic areas.

The department managed to drastically reduce road carnage during the Easter Moria pilgrimage earlier this year.

“This was mainly due to cooperation by motorists and pedestrians. Only 15 lives were lost compared to 23 the previous year,” said Kwapa.

Roads and Transport MEC Lehlogonolo Masoga said a low number of accidents are expected this weekend. He called on all road users to exercise patience and refrain from excessive speeding.

“We have identified excessive speeding as one of highly contributing factors of accidents on our roads. We are calling on all motorists to drive within the legal speed limit,” said Masoga, warning that the department will adopt a zero tolerance approach this weekend.

“We cannot allow reckless, selfish drunk drivers to claim innocent lives on our roads. Working together with the police this weekend, drunk drivers will be arrested and be brought to justice,” said Masoga.

South Africa is part of the United Nations General Assembly’s Decade of Action for Road Safety, which aims to reduce road deaths by 50% by 2020.

Petrol price to decrease by five cents

Pretoria: All grades of petrol will decrease by five cents per litre as of next Wednesday, the Department of Energy announced on Friday.

Motorists inland will now pay R13.50 per litre while it will cost R13.13 per litre at the coast.

A litre of Diesel 0.05% Suphur will increase by 13.820 cents while that of Diesel 0.005% Sulphur is set to increase by 14.820 cents.

Illuminating paraffin wholesale will increase by 25 cents a litre and Illuminating Paraffin (Single Maximum National Retail price) will increase by 33 cents.

The Maximum Retail Price for LPGAS will increase by nine cents per kilogram.

“The average international product prices of petrol decreased whilst diesel and illuminating paraffin increased during the period under review,” said the department.