Sowetan

Site workers left stranded

They have no food or money after delays in RDP housing project

- By Sisipho Zamxaka

Food served at funerals and traditiona­l ceremonies has been the only source of nutrition for 40 Limpopo constructi­on workers who were abandoned by their employer.

Ntema Investment­s was contracted by the Eastern Cape department of human settlement­s and awarded a R32-million RDP housing project in Frankfort outside Bhisho.

The company upped and left its employees, aged between 21 and 55, without food or toiletries for the past two months. Most of them did not even have money to go home.

However, thanks to concerned family members who sent transport money, more than half of the men have since returned home.

After a week on site, the men had constructe­d 74 foundation­s before the project was brought to a halt. They were allegedly not paid for the work done. The stranded workers said they trusted the director of the company, Masingita Nkuna, who they had worked with on previous projects.

Hlulani Nyathi said: “We have been working with Masingita for the longest time and it is not the first time we have worked outside Limpopo with him. We trusted him. We left families behind, with the hope that we will return home with some money,” he said.

Lucky Sekgotha said the only time they ate was when there was a funeral or traditiona­l ceremony in the village.

“We have never been paid for all the work done relating to the project since we got here,” Sekgotha said.

“We are in the deep rurals and everyone does their own thing, but the villagers do give us general jobs and we get a plate of food in return.

“Not everyone of us gets the job, so if I work today, another guy will work when there is another job in order for them to get food,” he said.

The Daily Dispatch visited the workers’ dark, cold temporary home this week – a back room at one of the houses near the constructi­on site. More than 10 men are crammed into one room and there is only one bed. The others are forced to sleep on the floor, with just one blanket and their clothes.

The last time they had a decent meal was last Saturday at a traditiona­l ceremony.

Nkuna said he was not responsibl­e for the workers as they are subcontrac­tors doing work on be half of his company.

“The workers get paid for the work done and now they can’t get paid because of the delays caused by the department of human settlement­s.

“You can’t go to work and not have means of supporting yourself,” said Nkuna.

Amahlathi local municipali­ty councillor Robert Desi said the houses were being built for the poor families in ward 12.

“The houses were for pensioners with mud houses, child-headed households and for elderly people that have been boarding at a school.

“We were hoping that by now at least a few of the houses would be ready for use. The school is also now being renovated, and those who were boarding at the school were forced to leave and ask other villagers to accommodat­e them.

“The person who brought them [the workers] here should make sure that they eat,” Desi said.

Human settlement­s spokesman Lwandile Sicwetsha said the contractor was told it could not start with constructi­on prior to “enrolment date”, but the company chose to go ahead without the knowledge of the department.

‘ ‘ We have never been paid for all the work done since we got here

 ?? / MICHAEL PINYANA/DAILY DISPATCH ?? A group of workers from Limpopo are stranded in Frankfort outside Bhisho, Eastern Cape, after their constructi­on company boss left without paying them. They are considerin­g pawning this truck to get money to go home.
/ MICHAEL PINYANA/DAILY DISPATCH A group of workers from Limpopo are stranded in Frankfort outside Bhisho, Eastern Cape, after their constructi­on company boss left without paying them. They are considerin­g pawning this truck to get money to go home.

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