Waste management company Pikitup has begun cleaning up the mess left by protesters who trashed parts of Hillbrow and Braamfontein in Johannesburg.

On Tuesday, protesters, believed to be part of the abolished Jozi@Work initiative, marched to Metro Centre‚ attacked shop stewards of the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), then went on a rampage‚ scattering waste on the surrounding roads.

Samwu shop steward Ester Mtatyana said: "We were at the head office as shop stewards … When I arrived at Metro Centre‚ before I could even get inside‚ I was attacked by these people. They beat me up and I was saved by the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD). They are accusing us of being involved in them not being employed by the city. They are also saying we are not legitimate shop stewards of Samwu."

Jozi@Work was introduced by the ANC administration to link young people with job opportunities through partnerships with the private sector. However, when Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba took over in 2016‚ he ended the initiative‚ arguing that it was benefiting the middle man.

In September last year‚ Pikitup was faced with similar protests from Jozi@Work beneficiaries‚ who demanded permanent employment in the city. The damage cost the city R50‚000 a day for the use of additional resources.

The mayor’s office told TimesLIVE that the city’s position on the Jozi@Work still stands. "The Jozi@Work programme was a tool used to ensure political patronage‚ where ward councillors sat on panels and allocated job opportunities. This in itself was a flawed process‚ as councillors should not be allowed to interfere in the employment of workers in the city."

"Rather‚ the city has committed to introducing a new programme, which will create fair and equal opportunities for all residents seeking employment. This new programme would replace the Jozi@Work platform. Indeed‚ Pikitup is planning to roll out a new community upliftment programme and, for the interim, has introduced the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) to replace the former Jozi@Work programme. The EPWP is aimed at poverty alleviation where projects are tied to varying timelines."

Efforts to get comment from the leaders of the Jozi@Work protests did not yield any results.

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