• SA Express employees have started crowdfunding to help feed colleagues who have not been paid since February. 
  • They have raised over R40,000 so far to help people buy groceries, nappies for newborn babies, or to pay for electricity. 
  • A letter to employees shows that they have also lost their medical aid coverage, but this is set to be restored by the end of April.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za

SA Express employees, who have not been paid since February, have started crowdfunding among one another and family members to feed their colleagues.

All SA Express flights have been grounded since 18 March, before the start of the national lockdown, after the company was placed in business rescue in February.

At the end of March, in a letter to employees, the business rescue practitioners said they are moving to liquidate the state-owned airline after they were unable to secure additional funding to keep it afloat.

Also read: Business rescuers for SA Express are moving to liquidate, due in part to the novel coronavirus

A senior SA Express employee, who spoke to Business Insider South Africa on the condition of anonymity, said the airline’s employees started raising funds to support colleagues who are going hungry. 

He said a WhatsApp group with most of the airline’s 600 employees was started in April, where Shoprite vouchers are being distributed. 

To date, over 81 vouchers amounting to over R40,000, have been offered. 

“A male colleague phoned on a Sunday crying, saying he was unable to feed his children, and we knew we had to do something,” the SA Express employee told Business Insider South Africa. 

“We have colleagues who just had babies who have no nappies or milk. People WhatsApp every day saying their electricity has been put off. It’s all heartbreaking, and completely unfair.” 

An unemployment insurance fund (UIF) payout expected at the end of April will not be nearly enough to feed colleagues and pay for expenses such as school fees, he said. 

The employee said SA Express workers have also lost their medical aid coverage after it emerged that the airline failed to pay contributions. “We have people on chronic medication who can no longer get the medicine they need - what must they do now?”

A letter to employees dated April 20, seen by Business Insider, shows that the airline also failed to pay its pension contributions for the past two months, and that contributions for accident and funeral insurance have also halted. 

SA Express has, however, reached an interim agreement with Discovery and Betmed to restore medical coverage at the end of April during the coronavirus outbreak period. 

SA Express referred enquires to business rescue practitioners. Business rescue practitioners Phahlani Mkhombo and Daniel Terblanche did not respond to a request for comment. 

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