THE unemployed wives of South African army soldiers killed on duty six months ago could soon have jobs after Premier Ace Magashule this week directed cooperative governance and traditional affairs MEC Olly Mlamleli to ensure they were hired.
Six of the 13 soldiers who were killed last March while fighting the Central African Republic’s Seleka rebels – now that country’s rulers – were from the Free State.
Speaking during the launch on Monday this week of the widows’ forum in the Free State, Magashule said he had long given instruction that the six widows be given jobs so they could be able to look after their families.
“I have long issued an instruction that the widows should be hired,” he said.
“It is a pity that I issue an instruction and people take their time to implement it.”
The premier asked Mlamleli there in public to explain why the widows were still unemployed to which the MEC responded with a promise that she would ensure that they were given jobs, indicating that some of the widows could even be hired as early as next Monday.
Some of the widows told the media about three weeks ago that government and army officials had not kept promises to assist them and that they were facing financial difficulties since the deaths of their husbands.
But Magashule told the six widows that the provincial government would make good on its promises to look after them.
“We want you to know that you are loved and cared for,” he said, reassuring the widows that they would get jobs and other help.
Meanwhile, the premier distributed blankets and food parcels to the soldiers’ and other widows who gathered at Waaihoek, on the south-eastern outskirts of Bloemfontein central business district, for the launch of the forum.
The forum, whose launch was part of activities to mark the 16 days of activism for no violence against women and children campaign, will work to promote the interests of widows and help defend them against abuse.