The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) has given the West Rand district municipality until noon on Thursday to sort out the payment of workers’ salaries.

Officials in the district municipality were held hostage from Wednesday afternoon until the early hours of Thursday morning over non-payment of workers‚ the union said.

The mayor‚ councilors‚ executives‚ managers and supervisors at the Randfontein-based district council‚ west of Johannesburg‚ were among those who did not get their salaries last week Thursday. Municipal workers said that only workers on lower salary scales had received their salaries.

Samwu western region secretary Siseko Siyothula told said on Thursday morning that the officials were not allowed to leave council chambers on Wednesday afternoon.

“The whole council, including the mayor‚ the municipal manager and executive managers, were held hostage. They were only released at 2am when the municipal manager acceded to providing means to pay all workers by 12 noon‚” Siyothula said.

“We can’t work for nothing. If we do not get paid by noon‚ we will close all services until the payments are made.”

He said workers were also demanding payment of their “13th month” cheques‚ housing subsidies and provident fund. “For the past three months‚ the municipality has not paid workers 13th cheques‚ provident fund and subsidies, including housing.”

According to reports‚ the municipality invested R77m in the embattled VBS Mutual Bank. “The whole non-payment issue started with the VBS saga. That is the root of the municipality’s financial woes‚” Siyothula said.

A damning report by advocate Terry Motau and Werksmans Attorneys, released earlier in October, detailed looting at VBS bank of nearly R2bn and identified the role of political players from the ANC and the EFF.

On Wednesday night, the West Rand district municipality denied the assertion that officials were held hostage by workers.  Instead‚ the municipality’s leadership said that worker representatives and senior municipal officials were sitting behind chamber doors discussing workers’ salaries.