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Department presses for criminal charges as assaults on inspectors escalate

by lloyd last modified 2008-10-13 12:01

Department presses for criminal charges as assaults on inspectors escalate

9 October  2008

Physical assault of Labour inspectors by employers has escalated, with two incidents reported in KwaZulu-Natal over the past two weeks, the department has said. The inspectors have fallen victim of these assaults and verbal abuse while conducting inspections in different parts of the province. Since both incidents have been reported to police, the names of the companies and their owners have been with-held.


In the first incident, an official is currently receiving medical treatment after an attack at a Ladysmith printing business where he was conducting a follow-up inspection of the place when the employer’s sons turned aggressive and swore before physically attacking him.


He suffered a cut on the face, had a swollen lump on his head and cracks to the ribs, while his jacket and shirt were torn.


According to the victim, he was visiting the workplace because during an earlier inspection, he had found that employees were only allowed 15 minutes of meal interval and that there was no valid first aid certificate at the workplace. At the time the inspector was unable to serve the relevant notices to the employer, hence he returned later.


The department has since opened an obstruction case in terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act against the employer. A criminal charge has also been opened for the assault of the inspector.


In another incident, a Pietermaritzburg employer is alleged to have verbally abused and physically handled another inspector who had gone there to discuss injury-on-duty compensation following media reports about foreign employees whom their employer had allegedly doused with thinners and set alight, accusing them of stealing diesel and spares.An obstruction charge is also being processed against this employer while a criminal assault charge has already been opened with the police. The inspector is also receiving medical treatment.


While expressing his sympathies with the attacked officials, Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana has condemned these violent attacks and warned that no one was above the law.


“Those found to be guilty of such an offence will be dealt with by the full might of the inspectorate.An inspector of the department has the power to visit any employer at any time to conduct inspections.Anyone who obstructs or hinders an inspector from performing this function, is breaking the law”.

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