The workers claim the man makes a lot of money daily but continues to give them a raw deal.
A Mpumalanga conservationist who has been in the wrestling ring with deputy president DD Mabuza over an alleged government sabotage of his business is accused by his own workers of being dishonest after leaving them unpaid for three months.
Over 40 workers at Fred Daniel’s Cradle of Life nature reserve in Badplaas are complaining that Daniel didn’t pay them for the months of June, July and August 2018 and they do not know what to do now.
They say they have approached the government labour department office in Elukwatini, near Badplaas but were still not getting any help to get what belongs to them.
Daniel, who is currently preparing court papers to oppose a decision by the Carolina Magistrates Court that set aside his protection order against Mabuza, owns the tourist area in the Mpumalanga province of Badplaas.
It is an ecotourism and game reserve business and also keeps wild species like giraffes, tigers, lions, pumas and hyenas.
The workers said they have been working for him, cleaning the guesthouses and feeding the strings of animals in his Cradle of Life nature reserve, earning R3,500 per month but Daniel “is one dishonest person you do not wish to work for”.
One worker, Smangele Nkambule, who was hired to clean the guesthouses, told the 013NEWS reporter this week that she began working for Daniel in April 2018 and was paid about R650 at the end of April because she started towards the middle of the month, said the following month she was paid 6 days after the agreed date had passed.
“Me I left,” Nkambule, a mother of two, said when she spoke to the 013NEWS reporter.
“I worked there from April 2018 until the first week of August 2018 and I realised that I was wasting my energy coming to work because I was not getting any money even though he expected us to do his job well and shouted at us.
“A lot of us have quit. Some were fired by him because they asked about the money,” Nkambule said.
“He owes me R7,000 because it’s June and July. I won’t count the last month because I didn’t work full month I left. He has problems paying people, for example if you are supposed to be paid on 30 August, he will pay you on 5 or 6 September and he’ll be very rude when he pays you the money,” Nkambule said.
Another worker told the reporter that they have asked assistance from a structure of the South African National Civic Organisation or SANCO in the area to “help shut down the business” to force Daniel to pay them.
He said they want anybody to help them get the money “even if it’s Julius Malema and the media”.
He said Daniel owes him alone R10, 500 for June, July and August 2018.
“It’s not 40 people that he owes. I’ve worked for him since 2011. What he does he hires you today and fires you next week and puts another one. Just like that and doesn’t pay you. So, if I were to count all these people who came in and got fired, it’s over hundred. Many people have worked for that man and many have complained of not being paid,” the worker said this week.
On 27 August 2018, the Carolina Magistrates Court labelled Daniel as a very dishonest person after he failed to provide the proper evidence why he wanted to be granted a protection order against Mabuza.
Daniel had approached the court in February 2018 to apply for a temporary protection order against Mabuza, accusing him of using his position to harass and sabotage his Badplaas business. He also accused Mabuza of supporting land claimants to this tourist area and is currently in the Tshwane high court, suing Mabuza R1,2bn for profits lost while being harassed and sabotaged by Mabuza while he was Premier, including allegedly withholding permits for him to run the game reserve business.
Magistrate Sarel Grabe last month said Daniel was manufacturing the allegations against Mabuza and dismissed his application to have the temporary protection order made permanent.
But Daniel’s lawyer Jacques Joubert said they were preparing to return to court and appeal the judgement that dismissed his client’s application for a protection order.
Badplaas SANCO branch secretary Reforce Sibanyoni confirmed they were approached by Cradle of Life workers to intervene.
“We even had a meeting with Mr Daniel on 9 August 2018 and he was someone who had an attitude. We tried to engage him on the table very politely and he was someone who was going to pay the workers the day after or something. We were then told weeks later he didn’t pay them as per the promise and when we called him he never picked our calls,” Sibanyoni said.
He said they had the meeting with Daniel after 11 workers approached them and they understand “a lot and lot of workers are under the situation”.
“I can name them. Most are people we live with in our community. Very poor people. Others were fired because they kept reminding him about the money and they say he is someone who is very violent, can treat you like that,” Sibanyoni said when he spoke to the 013NEWS reporter over the phone.
When contacted on Wednesday this week Daniel asked that the reporter phone him after certain hours as he was “in the middle of something” but since then never answered his phone.
013NEWS could not independently confirm with the labour department whether they were aware of this case as their phone at their Elukwatini offices ran unanswered but SANCO said they know the labour department has this matter.
“They even made a visit to his Cradle of Life before us but the workers now feel he bribed them because they never came back to them,” Sibanyoni said.
(edited by ZK)
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