Pikitup resumes cleanups with police escorts

Pikitup has resumed refuse collection around Johannesburg and Soweto with armed escorts protecting employees who had their lives threatened this week amid a row over hiring practices, the company said on Saturday.

"Our trucks are being escorted by [Johannesburg Metro Police Department] and the SA Police Service," said Pikitup spokesperson Muzi Mkhwanazi.

He said services resumed on Friday by agreement with Pikitup employees who have had a terrifying week after one staffer was even doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight. Drivers were going around the city and as far afield as Midrand to catch up on rubbish that had piled up when trucks were taken off the road for the safety of the drivers and staff.

READ: 5 nabbed for allegedly dousing Pikitup manager with petrol, threatening to set him alight

Five people were arrested in connection with this incident. Three trucks were also torched. 

"We were greatly relieved that our trucks were able to go out," said Mkhwanazi.

The company's depots from Soweto to as far afield as Midrand had to close after staff were being threatened following claims that the only way to get a job there was to pay somebody off.

Mkhwanazi said another claim was that people from outside the region were being hired through pay offs.

"Let them bring evidence so that this can be dealt with," he said.

Pikitup is also being audited and if claims that this is happening are true, it will be detected, he added.

In the meantime, a massive clean up around the city was underway to catch up with the backlog of refuse, with law enforcement authorities. This was in line with the city's moves to balance the right to safety of its employees, and the right of residents to have a clean city, he added.