THE Nelson Mandela BayMunicipality has marked the 20th anniversary of the release of the Struggle icon from prison by granting more than 200 safety and security volunteers permanent jobs.
At a ceremony held at KwaMagxaki Community Centre in Port Elizabeth yesterday, 220 volunteers signed assumption of duty forms after eight years of volunteer service.
The safety and security volunteer programme was introduced by former mayor Nceba Faku in 2003.
Human resources practitioner for safety and security in the municipality Werner van der Merwe said: "The volunteers are now given permanent jobs with the council. Most of them will serve as municipal law enforcement officers dealing with crime prevention, patrolling of streets and general law enforcement."
Van der Merwe said other than a monthly salary, the workers would be eligible for other benefits such as medical aid and pension fund.
Fundeka Nquse said she was happy to be employed permanently after volunteering since 2002. "Being employed permanently will make a huge difference to my family."
Vuyile Fumbatha, who started volunteering in 2003, said: "I am very happy about being permanently employed. Even the tense atmosphere at home has changed. My dignity as a man has been restored."
Branch secretary of the South African Municipal Workers Union Gerald Fundani said: "It is fitting that a municipality which bears the name of Nelson Mandela should mark the 20th anniversary of his release by confirming permanent employment of these workers.
"These workers have beencontinuously exploited for seven years.
"We hope that by employing these volunteers the municipality will influence other municipalities to do the same."