South Africa: Hospital Guards in Limbo As EC Health Department Fails to Pay Security Company

Security company says it had to terminate the contract because health department has not paid

  • Xhobani Security Services has ended its contract with the provincial health department a month early.
  • The provincial health department owes the security company R4-million.
  • As a result, about 100 security guards have not received their January pay cheques.

About 100 security guards at healthcare facilities across Nelson Mandela Bay municipality have not been paid for January.

Some of the workers embarked on a brief protest after receiving the news last week. On Monday morning they returned to guard the healthcare facilities under a month-to-month contract tor a different company, Tekhu Security Services.

A guard at the Laetitia Bam Day Hospital in KwaNobuhle, Kariega, who asked to remain anonymous, said their contract with Xhobani Security Services, which was due to continue until the end of February, ended at the end of January. They had not been paid, he said.

He and three colleagues were only told of the early termination on 1 February, he said. The same night a police officer, who appeared drunk, rammed his vehicle into the hospital’s main gate, knocking it down, for which the guards were initially blamed, he said.

“The vehicle he was driving had no plate number and looked unroadworthy,” he said. Other police officers had arrived at the scene, taken statements from the guards who witnessed it, and opened a case.

By Monday, he and his colleagues were working for Tekhu Security, but were still waiting for their January salaries from Xhobani Security.

He said they had asked the health department to employ them directly.

Police spokesperson Captain Sandra Janse Van Rensburg said SAPS KwaNobuhle are investigating a case of malicious damage to property.

Xhobani Security Services general manager Carl Lonn said the Eastern Cape Department of Health (DoH) owed them more than R4-million. As a result, the company had informed the DoH in mid-January that they would not be able to pay workers’ salaries for the month and could not render services through February, at the end of which their contract were due to end.

National Education, Health, and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) regional secretary Samkelo Msila told GroundUp they warned the DoH that if NEHAWU members were affected they would take legal action.

“We are aware of the contract expiry for security companies in the DoH, and we are informed by the department that there are new service providers that have been contracted with the start date of 1 April 2024,” said Msila. He said in the meantime the DoH was engaging security suppliers on a month-to-month basis.

He said workers at various healthcare facilities had told the union that in the meantime, security guards were clocking in for work but were “not performing any service”.

The DoH did not respond to queries, despite repeated requests to do so.

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