PSA relieved 'death trap' Musina magistrate's court was closed
The Public Servants Association of SA (PSA) has welcomed the closure of the Musina magistrate's court to ensure the safety of people in a building that could have collapsed or caught on fire at any time.
The PSA made this remark after the court was closed on Monday when the department of justice and constitutional development was served with a notice prohibiting the building from being used as it was in danger of collapsing.
The PSA was alerted by frightened members about their working conditions in September 2020, prompting the union to visit the court.
The union said the problems included a dilapidated structure on which the roof was balanced by a stack of bricks to prevent it from falling.
There were also inadequate and dysfunctional toilets, no access to clean and drinkable water, a leaking roof, poor lights, damaged ceiling, no locking filing cabinets for confidential files, protruding and exposed electrical cables, no provision of a cleaning service and broken air-conditioners.
The union said there was inadequate office space, making social distancing impossible.
“To make matters worse, people were welcomed by piles of stones and rubble in the yard and unprotected trenches that were dug three years ago which caused injury [to] two employees.”
The union said the department of public works and infrastructure could not assist.
After unsuccessful engagements with the employer, the union escalated the matter to the department of employment and labour for a building inspection.
A contravention notice was issued in September 2020. The notice gives the employer an opportunity to correct a contravention within a time limit, usually 60 days.
The PSA said it visited the court again on May 28 and learnt that the situation had not improved despite the contravention notice that was issued. It contacted the inspector again, leading to a follow-up inspection on Monday which led to the issuance of a prohibition notice.
“The building was dubbed a death trap by the PSA, hence the closure comes as a relief.”
The union said it persistently fought for the safety of members as a conducive and safe workplace was not a favour but a requirement in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
“Though we are sympathising with members of the public who will have a challenge to access services, the PSA is happy that the building is finally closed to ensure safety of employers and the very clients that were being serviced in a building that could have collapsed or caught fire at any time.”