The dangerous working conditions for Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality service delivery departments was accentuated when a work assignment tragically ended with the fatal shooting of a Helenvale man on Saturday.
Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Director of Safety and Security, Advocate Keith Meyer, says the incident marred a normal workday that should ideally have remained mundane instead of a life being lost and that of the security officer irreversibly altered.
“At approximately 10:30 on Saturday two of our security officers provided an escort to a team from electricity, tasked with the restoration of supply to two houses in Uranus street, Barcelona.
“A young man, later identified as Anneclato John Barendse (29), ordered one of the security officers to move his vehicle as it was in front of his house. When the official complied, an argument ensued between the deceased and the other security guard, after which Barendse left the scene.
“I spoke with the traumatised officials and understand that the deceased returned with a knife and aggressively attempted to stab the security official he had argued with.
“The official was forced to draw his firearm and ordered Barendse to step back. He did not comply and a shot was fired, hitting Anneclato in the chest. He died at the scene.
“Our officers retreated due to the hostility of residents who tried to block the road to stop our municipal vehicle from leaving the scene.
“A case was opened at the Gelvandale Police Station and the security officers handed their weapons in as well,” Meyer said.
Service delivery departments, crucial in ensuring that municipal services are available to all residents, are often the target of criminal elements. Municipal vehicles are often torched during volatile situations as well.
Meyer explained that the municipality considers the safety of workers in such a serious light that his directorate met with service delivery departments to establish standard operating procedure to ensure that a seamless process is in place that simultaneously ensures improved services and the safety of employees.
“It has reached the point where we are seriously considering the greater involvement of law-abiding citizens as they are adversely affected when the electricity or water provision is interrupted. Our employees have been threatened with firearms and knives while they are attempting to do their jobs,” Meyer added.
Security escorts are provided for hotspot areas or those where officials were previously the victims of robberies and other crimes.