Questions over City work programme

Hangberg residents applying for the EPWP programme last year at the Hangberg Sports and Recreation Centre.

The City’s expanded public works programme has drawn criticism from some Hangberg residents who say it favours some while passing over others.

Those who complained to the Sentinel asked us not to identify them as they feared being victimised and ruining any chances they might have of being selected for the programme in future.

But they said they had chosen to come forward because they were “tired of being treated unfairly”.

“The people appointed keep giving the people they know work, and the more we ask about it, the further down we go down on the list. We have to work because we also have families,” said one woman.

Many of those who got work were either “family or friends” of the people who made the appointments, she claimed.

“It’s very unfair, and we have lots of people who are looking for work here in the community.”

Another resident said the unfair treatment was “playing with people’s lives”. He said both he and his son were both waiting for work.

“We did all the paperwork, and we keep asking. We’re told to be patient, but we see the same people getting work all the time and people who are in their circles.

“Your chances of getting work are a lot better if you play nice with them. It’s unfair, and it must be addressed.”

Jan Lewis, the City-appointed community liaison officer who is also the Peace and Mediation Forum chairperson, confirmed that he had received complaints about the way people were being selected for work opportunities, and they had been discussed with staff in the jobseekers database office during a meeting on Tuesday August 16.

“We did discuss possible solutions and the way forward,” he added, but he wouldn’t be drawn on details, saying discussions were ongoing.

According to Grant Twigg, mayoral committee member for urban waste management, EPWP workers were selected randomly from a jobseekers database. The system had been approved by council and it drew random names from within the applicable sub-council and wards.

“It is important to note that councillors are prohibited to be involved in the recruitment and selection of EPWP workers. This is based on the City’s management of the jobseekers policy,” he said.

“Jobseekers are required to register themselves on the City of Cape Town jobseekers database in order to be eligible for randomisation and employment.”

Mr Twigg said that while complaints from Hangberg residents “could have substance” no formal complaints had been lodged with the City.

“Residents can submit their concerns via a ward councillor or to the sub-council manager where they reside for an investigation to take place,” Mr Twigg said.

However, he said the City had not yet had reason to investigate the job-allocation process in Hangberg.

“This can be done upon receipt of a complaint from the community,” Mr Twigg said.

If an investigation turned up anything suspicious, a standard disciplinary process would follow, he said.

“We encourage residents to continue bringing these issues to our attention in order for us to get to the bottom of any interferences with the EPWP selection process,” Mr Twigg said.