One of the country’s top public servants says excelling in her job put her life in danger‚ even forcing her to leave her position in order to stay alive.
Phumzile Mgojo‚[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]45‚ is a client service officer in the Department of Labour in Port Shepstone‚ KwaZulu-Natal.
On Friday Mgojo was honoured for being the best front-line service delivery employee of the year in the fifth edition of the Batho Pele awards‚ in Boksburg‚ Ekurhuleni. The awards were hosted by the Department of Public Service and Administration.
Mgojo’s current job entails receiving labour law complaints from workers. These include being allowed to have annual leave‚ registration with the Unemployment Insurance Fund‚ registration for workmen’s compensation and in even getting paid for work that has already been done.
In her spare time‚ the married mother of two works as a community developer‚ mostly helping the youth in the performing arts.
She arrived in the department in 2001 as an admin clerk with just matric and a secretarial certificate. But it happened that one of the labour inspectors was on leave and she was asked to assist in that office.
When she arrived at that unit‚ she discovered that there were many cases that the labour inspectors had not finalised. She concluded those cases in record time‚ surpassing all the inspectors who had done the job for years.
It came as no surprise when she was offered a job as a labour inspector. She was also registered her with Technikon SA for formal training in the country’s labour laws.
Mgojo spent 12 years as a labour inspector‚ working diligently. But that did not just bring praise from her bosses‚ it also brought the worst times of her life.
“They [employers] used to try to bribe me but I would tell them that I am not working just for financial gain but for vulnerable employees who get exploited. Every time I would see that the conversation is towards bribery‚ I would immediately stop them‚” Mgojo told TimesLIVE.
“But it got so bad that some employers started to want to take my life. I used to get threats on my life. They would call to tell me that they are going to shoot me. This happened a lot when government introduced minimum wages in sectors such as domestic workers‚ farm workers‚ wholesale and retail workers.
“I used to take employers on‚ even to a point that they would be compelled to backpay the workers they had exploited.
“I remember days when suspicious cars would be following me from work to home. Some would threaten openly‚ telling me that I don’t sleep in the department’s office‚ therefore they will deal with me accordingly.”
It was at that time that Mgojo realised that she was going to lose her life as a result of her commitment to her job. She requested her employers to move her to client services.
“I love people. I love people a lot. As a person who saw apartheid and the oppression that we endured under white rule‚ I told myself that the day I worked for a black government‚ I would make sure that I fight for poor people and those who can’t speak for themselves. I also learned from the late former president Nelson Mandela who loved people and served them with distinction.”
In the past‚ Mgojo has also received numerous awards for her work. She was voted the best labour inspector in KwaZulu-Natal. She was also named the best front-line service delivery employee‚ an award she received from KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu last year‚ just to mention a few.
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