Worker at University of Pretoria killed by chipper machine

10 November 2017 - 12:10 By Kgaugelo Masweneng
University of Pretoria. File photo.
University of Pretoria. File photo.
Image: University of Pretoria

A Servest employee working at the University of Pretoria was killed when he was pulled into a chipper machine at the university’s LC De Villiers campus on Monday.

Mokhiti Moeti‚ 25‚ was chopping wood for recycling and compost when the incident occurred.

A witness‚ Mulisa Mabudafhasi‚ told TimesLIVE that the incident had left him traumatised.

“I’m not okay; I don’t think I will be okay. I am traumatised. I don’t think counselling will help. All I saw was his hand gloves disappearing into the machine and within a second there was blood and minced meat all over the machine. We were working under pressure‚ that’s how we live‚ we are oppressed. So my friend was stressed like I was. They left the two of us to operate a dangerous machine without the keys‚ I could not do anything‚” said Mabudafhasi.

According to Isaac Malema‚ spokesperson for the General Industries Workers Union of South Africa (GIWUSA)‚ the workers were not properly equipped to operate the machine.

“After investigations into this‚ I am of the understanding that the machine must be operated by a minimum of six people‚ and in this case it was only two. The workers told us that they were not properly trained or given safety equipment‚” said Malema.

Malema said that the family of the deceased were trying to trace his father‚ Joseph Ratau who is rumoured to be in the Manganeng area in Limpopo.

The memorial service will take place on Friday at the Dutch reformed church in Hatfield. The university and Servest said in a joint statement that an investigative team had been unable to conclusively identify the root cause of the fatal accident.

“Police and emergency services were immediately called to the scene. Both Servest and UP are working hand in hand with SAPS and the Department of Labour as they investigate the matter. The investigative team has thus far been unable to conclusively identify the root cause of this fatal accident‚ however‚ the SAPS and the Department of Labour are still finalising their investigation. Servest and UP has and will continue to cooperate with SAPS and the Department of Labour‚” the statement read.

The ANC Youth League branch at the university charged that workers at the university continued to be treated as “expendable appendages”.

“The death of a worker must be seen as a loss to the University as a whole. The ANCYL Tukkies branch notes and condemns the classist and seemingly racist nature of University in acknowledging deaths of workers. Outsourced workers continue to be treated as expendable appendages that mean nothing to the University community.” said Tholithembelihle Cenenda‚ branch chairperson of the ANCYL at the university.