Students lock civil servants out of office

500 human resource workers from the North West Department of Education have been locked out of their offices by college students
500 human resource workers from the North West Department of Education have been locked out of their offices by college students
Image: 123RF

More than 500 human resources staff members at the North West department of education have been locked out of their offices by college students who claimed the building was their residence.

It has been two weeks since the staff members were evicted by angry Taletso FET college students.

Most of the stranded department staff now work from their cars. They said they were not informed that they would be evicted, why or where they should report for duty.

One of the staff members who did not want to be named said: "We are entering the third week now. Come month end, I will be paid for sitting in my car and doing nothing. This is frustrating."

Another employee said she was worried about important documents that were left behind.

Manpower College, now called Taletso, used to fall under the department of education. The college then migrated to the department of higher education and training.

Taletso student representative Itumeleng Gopane said some of the college's buildings were run by the department of basic education.

"That's where the problem started. Basic education started to occupy our building."

He said it was only in 2017 that students started seeking their residence back because of a large enrolment, and fears for their safety.

"We saw it fit that we must approach the department and seek our residence back. They started to be arrogant and we also started to be angry and engaged in a protest," he said.

He said court intervention failed to lead to an agreement.

He said it was in October last year, when student Refiloe Sekabi was murdered, that they decided that "enough is enough".

He said in January, the students met with the education department and it was agreed that by April 1, the building would be vacated and the first batch of students were to be allocated the rooms.

"We then started to occupy it forcefully from that day after we saw that they were not vacating the premises," he said.

North West department of education spokesperson Freddy Sepeng said they have started placing staff members at different offices in Mahikeng while they were "in negotiation with the students about the building".

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