Kidnap probe after Ugu strike

A SANLAM employee has laid kidnapping and intimidation charges against some Ugu District Municipality managers – and police investigations continue regarding possible sabotage of water infrastructure by Ugu workers.

Both cases are related to the recent strike by Ugu workers which resulted in massive South Coast water cuts at the beginning of the December holiday season. The strike was triggered by Ugu workers’ dissatisfaction regarding Sanlam death and disability policies negotiated for them by the municipality about 20 years ago.

According to a Sanlam spokesman,  an employee of the company had laid criminal charges against some members of the Ugu management team for ‘kidnapping and intimidation’, during the last week of November 2016.

“The case was transferred to the Port Shepstone police during the last week of December. Sanlam is currently awaiting details regarding progress of the police investigation,” he said.

Police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Zandra Wiid confirmed that a case of kidnapping and intimidation had been reported to police and that the case docket was currently being investigated by Port Shepstone detectives.

“The complainant in this case alleges that he and a colleague (both employees at an insurance company) were called to municipal offices in Port Shepstone on November 24 last year to give answers to protesting staff regarding insurance premiums paid by them and which they wanted refunded. The complainant alleges that during the meeting with mentioned individuals, a crowd gathered outside and they were very noisy.

“According to the complainant and his colleague, they were forced by the individuals present to sign an undertaking that the money would be paid back to the protesting staff and they were kept against their will until such time that he signed the agreement under ‘duress’. Only once he had signed the agreement, were he and his colleague allowed to go. At this stage the SAPS is still busy with investigation into these allegations. Once the investigation is completed, the case docket will be submitted to the Senior State Prosecutor for decision,” she said.

As the matter is sub judice no further comment can be reported at this stage. In other words, the merits of the case have to be heard in court first.

To recap: On December 9 Sanlam issued a press statement regarding the controversy over the group life insurance.

“It should be noted that Sanlam does not administer any pension fund on behalf of the District Municipality or its employees and is thus not engaged in any matters that may surround issues relating to pension fund contributions. Sanlam is able to clarify the current situation as follows: Sanlam (via its Sanlam Group Risk division) was the underwriter of a group life insurance policy (death, disability and funeral cover) issued to the Ugu District Municipality. In terms of this policy, Sanlam provided cover for municipal employees of the Ugu District Municipality in the event of death or disability.

“In terms of any group life insurance policy, premiums for life cover are paid in return for an undertaking by the insurer to pay a benefit when the insured event occurs, i.e. when an employee becomes disabled or dies. The Ugu District Municipality has since cancelled the policy, with effect from December 1 last year. Sanlam, as the underwriter of the group life insurance policy has met all its legal obligations and claims were duly paid where any insured events have occurred before cancellation of the policy,” the press release stated.

Sabotage probe

The South Coast Herald has asked the SAPS about the progress of any investigations regarding the alleged sabotage of Ugu District Municipality water infrastructure during the strike and whether any probe was taking place regarding the life insurance issues that triggered the strike.

According to Captain Simphiwe Mhlongo, a spokesman for the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, the case had been allocated to Durban Organised Crime and was still under investigation.

No arrest had been made at this stage, he said.

Uvongo charges

Still in the legal arena this week, the Democratic Alliance (DA) has laid criminal charges with Margate police against the accounting officer of the Ugu District Municipality. This follows the discovery by the DA of the possible sources of sewage contamination of Uvongo lagoon.


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Judi Davis

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