FRANCISTOWN: Female employees at the Francistown City Council (FCC) working in the public health department have accused the council management of forcing them to patrol in dangerous areas, in a bid to counter illegal waste dumping.
The aggrieved employees allege that areas, where they carry out their patrols, are bushy and in the outskirts of the city. For this reason, they say that patrolling in those areas exposes them to grave danger.
To highlight the danger of patrolling in illegal waste dumping hotspots, sources say two female employees were almost raped recently. They were also robbed of their belongings, amongst them mobile phones.
Furthermore, sources allege that workers are not even offered transport to areas where they are assigned to patrol. This is even though they are assigned to patrol in areas outside the city such as at the water tanks along the Borolong/Francistown road that are not easily accessible.
In addition, insiders claim that FCC management was recently alerted about the risks the female employees are exposed to (concerning patrolling illegal waste dumping sites outside town and near rivers) but there seems to be no commitment to action.
“There were two separate incidents where two women were nearly raped, but senior officials did not take any action. The women were robbed of their mobile phones. The sad thing is that women are always complaining about how unsafe it is to patrol in bushy areas,” said an insider at the council.
However, on Friday the council shot down concerns from the aggrieved employees. The FCC through spokesperson, Nametso Makula said at the initial stages of the initiative the intention was to deploy only male employees to the illegal waste dumping sites.
She, however, said female employees wanted to be included in the exercise and the management conceded to their wishes. The assertion by Makula was refuted by several sources at the council. Meanwhile, the council spokesperson confirmed the robbery incidents against employees patrolling in areas where illegal dumping is prevalent.
“In the year in which this surveillance exercise has been ongoing, two females and one male officer have been targeted in cellphone robberies. These incidents were reported to the council but no reluctance to discontinue the exercise has been expressed following the separate incidents. As exemplified at the beginning of the exercise, officers’ requests are given due consideration,” Makula said not mentioning anything about the alleged attempted rape cases.
Despite sources indicating that the council is not keen on preventing female officers from being part of the initiative the FCC has said if female officers ‘communicate their unhappiness with the arrangement, the measure to omit them from the endeavour would be readily considered’.
“With regards to transport, it is true that employees are not provided with transport to these points of deployment. Our position is that these areas are within reach of public transport. Furthermore, these employees do not report to a central place before dispersing to various work stations, but rather report directly to various areas of operation where they are checked upon during the day. It is also noteworthy to state that employees were consulted before deployment with the view to place them not far from their places of residence (though not always workable).”
Employees argue that not deploying them near their places of residence as well as not offering them transport means that they have to spend more money (on public transport) to reach their areas of deployment, something that inconveniences them.