Amputated foundry worker stage heroic fight for compensation

Zanewonga John Tekana’s awkward situation completely typifies efforts by more than 250 000 workers injured on duty, who became locked into poverty trap after queuing in vain for many years in their quest for just compensation.

His erroneous assessment for temporary disablement by Labour Department’s officials after his arm was permanently cut off, is a case in point to prove Tekana’s determination to fight for justice.

Tekana, aged 40, was offered a paltry R1, 459 for six months by the department’s Compensation Commission in respect of temporary disablement payments, almost three years after his left forearm was amputated while operating a machine in the factory production line.

In his case, the compensation for occupational injury was particularly trivial and unfair as he was denied further compensation when he in fact suffered permanent disablement.

He was employed by OZZ Foundries in Dimbaza, outside King Williams Town, which was in turn paid back R11 616 by the Commission.

Knowing your rights and being a fighter like Tekana paid off eventually as he successfully appealed with the help of Numsa national health and safety coordinator.

After enduring three years of taunts of being forced to continue working with one hand, derision and pennilessness, he has won R38 000 in arrear pension payments, in addition to pension reimbursement of R1, 670 a month until he reaches old- age pension.

Though more than 250 000, mostly metalworkers were affected by the unending backlog situation in the Labour Department for the past five years, department officials have conceded that it is not known yet if the situation is not “now worse than a logjam”.

Numsa wholeheartedly applauds assistance provided by the departmental officials approached in resolving Tekana’s occupational compensation dispute.

The union leadership in the same vein believe however, that there is nothing that exposes the sleazy corrupt situation within the Compensation Commission than the scandalous and escalating 250 000 -backlog in compensating hundreds of thousands of workers affected who were mostly metalworkers.

We appreciate however the fact that the department ‘s compensation board acknowledged serious problems issues identified within Compensation Commission which it attributed to unsound computer systems, staff attitude to their work and lack of monitoring processes, Numsa national health and safety coordinator Puleng Mminele said yesterday.

Numsa also welcomes the proposed labour ministerial amendments in respect of increase in maximum compensation from R80 00 to more than R150 000, effective from April 1, 2008.

For further information contact:

Mziwakhe Hlangani, Numsa national spokesperson

Cell phone: 082 9407116

E-mail :


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