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Raids force the closure of Pretoria Spar supermarket

  • Staff Writer: Brian Sokutu

The raids at two Spar outlets and a large Meat World butchery followed an anonymous tip-off about ‘unscrupulous employers’ breaking the law.

A Spar supermarket was forced to close, 11 undocumented migrant workers were arrested and three employers were issued with fines in Pretoria yesterday when government inspectors swooped on companies found to be in contravention of various South African laws.

There were heightened tensions when inspectors from the department of employment and labour (DL), in partnership with the South African Police Service, the South Africa Revenue Service, Tshwane municipal health and fire department inspectors, the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications, the departments of home affairs and agriculture, pounced on stores at Elarduspark and Mooikloof – run by what they regarded as “unscrupulous employers”.

According to DL spokesperson Mishack Magakwe, the raids at two Spar outlets and a large Meat World butchery followed an anonymous tip-off, that employers failed to comply with labour, immigration, health and safety regulations.

Heavily armed police, backed up the inspectors, entered the Spar and Meat World in Elarduspark, as well as in Mooikloof, and it was found that employers failed to:

  • Pay employees a minimum wage, stipulated under the Basic Conditions of Employment Act;
  • Comply with labour laws by paying for overtime;
  • Register employees for the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF);
  • Ensure that foreign migrants had proper work permits;
  • Register employees under the Compensation of Injuries and Diseases Act – making employers liable for a fine; and
  • Provide payslips for employees.

Magakwe said the closed Elarduspark Spar was slapped with a 60-day notice to comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.

“At Meat World, department of agriculture inspectors found that employees were not supplied with the required protective clothing and equipment.

“They also found dry wors which was not good for human consumption due to a bad smell.

“Notices were handed to employers in connection with all the transgressions and failure to comply will lead to prosecution,” said Magakwe.

He said at the Mooikloof Spar, employees worked excessively beyond the 45-hour week without overtime being paid.

“If you are sick and produce a doctor’s note, you are turned away to stay at home for a week without being paid,” said Magakwe.

“Through these swoops, the message we are driving is that we have adopted zero tolerance when it comes to legal compliance by employers.

“Workers’ rights are human rights and our doors are open to both employers and employees for advice.

“People can also call us and report issues anonymously without disclosing their names.

“We have found instances where pregnant women cannot claim any benefit because employers have not registered them for the UIF.”

Employees found to have been undocumented migrants were detained at the Brooklyn police station and are to be handed over to the Lindela Repatriation Centre.

“But before the arrests, we forced employers to pay them a full salary due to them,” Magakwe said.

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