NEHAWU North West statement on the torching of a Government building in Mafikeng

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] in the North West Province condemns the torching of a government building in Mafikeng over alleged tender irregularities.

The Agricentre offices which houses both the Department of Economic Development, Environment Conservation and Tourism and the Department of Human Settlement was torched by people claiming they were owed money for work they had done.

We applaud law enforcement agencies for acting swiftly to apprehend the suspects who will be appearing in court today to face arson charges. The destruction of government properties will never be tolerated and we hope that harsh punitive measures will be meted out to send a clear message to others who are still planning on torching government buildings.

NEHAWU is worried about the safety of its members and workers. The fact that people can walk into the building and set it alight with people inside is a serious cause for concern. This proves beyond reasonable doubt that there is no sufficient security to guarantee the safety of our members and workers. We have been calling for the insourcing of security services but our calls have constantly fallen on deaf ears.

Our members and workers who witnessed the horrific incident were left traumatised and scared for their lives. We call on the government to ensure that workers are urgently provided with counselling to deal with the ordeal that befell them.

What we find worrisome is the fact that this is not the first act of violence to take place in that building. Last year a gunman walked into the building and shot a worker in cold blood. It is evident that security was not upgraded after that incident. We also alerted the department about the lack of sufficient escape doors in the building and nothing was done to fix that matter and it nearly cost workers their lives as they had to use one door to escape when the building was torched.

We are currently in the process of demanding an urgent meeting with MEC Kenetswe Mosenogi to discuss the tightening of security measures to avert another similar incident. We will also be demanding to meet the provincial government to raise sharply the issue workers safety in government buildings across the province. Last year in April a number of employees in the North West Department of Rural, Environment and Agricultural Development were rushed to hospital for smoke inhalation after their offices were also set on fire.

NEHAWU will not stand idle while the safety of its members and workers is compromised and neglected. We will fight until the bitter end to ensure our members are guaranteed a safe working environment.

Issued by NEHAWU North West Secretariat Office: For more information, please contact: Patrick Makhafane (NEHAWU North West Provincial Secretary) at 018 381 4585 – 082 455 2486 or email: