A CITY programme that enlists prisoners to perform some jobs for the municipality would not affect municipal employees’ positions, Msunduzi mayor Mzimkhulu Thebolla has said.
The municipality has recently come under fire after it was revealed that it had entered into an arrangement with the Department of Correctional Services to use low-risk inmates to do some jobs in the city.
The prisoners are considered to be rehabilitated offenders and the initiative is part of their rehabilitation and re-integration into society, the mayor said.
“We want to emphasise that this project is not meant to replace any worker in the Msunduzi Municipality. Some have accused us of slavery of the highest order without having read the memorandum between the municipality and the department,” said Thebolla.
Labour unions, including the South African Municipal Workers Union, had criticised the initiative as an attempt to source cheap labour instead of hiring workers.
A city official said the offenders had a lot of skills they could offer the municipality. According to the agreement between the city and the department, the inmates would be responsible for street cleaning, grass cutting in parks and cemeteries, the painting of municipal owned buildings, including servicing of the municipality’s fleet.
He said the public should be at ease as these individuals are not violent, are rehabilitated and the programme had been employed elsewhere without incidents.