The functional head of Groenkloof Nature reserve, David Boshoff, and his family have been evicted from their council-owned house late Wednesday night. “If you do not leave your house by twelve you would be arrested,” a Tshwane Metro human resources (HR) manager, who was escorted by several Tshwane Metro police members, allegedly told Boshoff.
According to Shiona Kemsley, Boshoff’s fiancé, the HR manager accused Boshoff in front of striking workers among other things of requesting metro to shoot the striking workers, of initiating the no work no pay process against the striking workers, of threatening the workers with his firearm and of living in a lovely house while his workers lived in small rooms with dirty toilets. Boshoff, his fiancé and their three-year-old son threw some clothes in bags and moved in with Kemsley’s sister. They left their dogs behind and Kemsley said she was too scared to go back to the house as the workers were still threatening and intimidating them.
“It was very traumatic,” Kemsley said on Friday. “They did not have the right to evict us without an eviction notice. We are paying rent and according to our rental agreement they have to give us a months’ notice, whether David is suspended or not. I did not want to fight the council as I was scared that David would end up in jail.”
Kemsley said Boshoff was suspended on the same day for alleged racism, corruption and the fact “that he was staying in a clean house and the reserve’s workers had to stay in dirty hostels.” Eric Seshoko, a shop steward and worker who spoke on behalf of the rest of the staff was also suspended.
Boshoff’s suspension followed a final verbal warning last year for using money that was left over from the restoration of a stone hall. He used the remaining money to build a dripstone at the administration building. “David was headed toward a disciplinary hearing. He admitted human error by not declaring that he was going to build a dripstone with the remaining funds.” Boshoff was not allowed to speak to the media but he has seen his lawyer and is prepared to fight his suspension and the eviction in court.
Kemsley, who has been living with Boshoff on the premises for the past seven years, said the go-slow strikes have been going on for the past five months. “The council provide the workers with protective uniforms twice a year. By November last year their uniforms were ready but they refused to fetch it from David. They would clock in at the depot, but not pick up their tools to start working.”
No work has been done since. Tshwane metro has been paying their salaries, that varied between R7 000 and R8 000 per month. Mid-February the workers, their union and management had a meeting and reached an understanding that the workers would take possession of their equipment and uniforms and start with their daily duties.
“But they still did not get back to work. They refused to do work assigned to them. They would sit in the reserve’s visitors area at the swimming pool or underneath the trees chatting the days away.”
Kemsley said when one of the supervisors, Emmanuel Komana, reprimanded them, “all hell broke loose” and Komana was accused of being pro-white. “These unfounded allegations (against Boshoff) from a top human resources manager is a disgrace to this city and needs to be investigated urgently. Even illegal vagrants are given proper eviction notification, yet David has been treated worse than a scavenging dog,” said Bronwynn Engelbrect, Democratic Alliance (DA) council member for ward 42.
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