Jo'burg service centre near breaking point after employee suspensions

In spite of bringing in support staff from various other support centres around the city, Thuso House is dealing with customer queries at a painfully slow rate. (Gallo)

In spite of bringing in support staff from various other support centres around the city, Thuso House is dealing with customer queries at a painfully slow rate. (Gallo)

The City employees were suspended after they embarked on an unprotected strike in March. 

In spite of bringing in support staff from various other support centres around the city, Thuso House in Braamfontein is dealing with customer queries at a painfully slow rate.

On Tuesday, only seven out of the available 35 customer service stations were staffed with personnel while more than 60 customers waited to be served.

"This city does not care for us," Barbara van der Haar, a 77-year-old pensioner from Bosmont told the Mail & Guardian

Van der Haar and her 82-year-old husband Vivian claimed they had received no assistance from the City since registering their complaint about alleged overcharging for water in December last year 

"We've been here twice this week already, and it's only Tuesday. When we get to the front they can't help us and we have to come back. We're old, we can't keep doing this," she added.

Lack of wage equalisation
Meanwhile, employees claimed they were protesting due to a lack of wage equalisation across various departments, including City Power and Johannesburg Water.

"Even when they were fully staffed here, it was shit," said Darren Sparks from Eldorado Park.

Sparks said he'd been waiting four hours to register a complaint of irregular charges on his electricity and water account after arriving at 7am.

"They pretend to work but all they really do is send you from pillar to post like it's a game. You'll actually waste your time to come here," Sparks added. 

Sparks opinion was mirrored by Mondeor resident Tennysson Legeta. 

"This whole place should be privatised so that we can get a decent service," Legeta said. 

"I lodged a complaint in January and the City has done nothing. They claim to have a quick turnaround time on complaints but it's nonsense. Every time I come here it's a different person and a new process – it's ridiculous."

'Running on skeleton staff'
Johannesburg City spokesperson Gabu Tugwana said it was aware of the problem experienced at Thuso House and were addressing it.

"This is not new. We issued statements saying the Thuso House service centre would be running on skeleton staff until further notice," he said. 

"We are doing our best to ensure extra staff is attending to customer queries and have drafted in members from other districts to assist with the shortage."

Tugwana also encouraged Johannesburg residents to utilise other service centres while issues at Thuso House were being resolved.

Nickolaus Bauer

Nickolaus Bauer

Nickolaus Bauer is the Mail & Guardian's jack of all trades news reporter that chases down stories ranging from politics and sports to big business and social justice. Armed with an iPad, SLR camera, camcorder and dictaphone, he aims to fight ignorance and pessimism through written words, photographs and videos. He believes South Africa could be the greatest country in the world if only her citizens would give her a chance to flourish instead of dwell on the negativity. When he's not begging his sub-editors for an extra twenty minutes after deadline, he's also known to dabble in the occasional poignant column that will leave you mulling around in the depths of your psyche. The quintessential workaholic, you can also catch him doing sports on the weekday breakfast show on SAfm and presenting the SAfm Sports Special over the weekend. Read more from Nickolaus Bauer

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