National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) has accused Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha of flouting Covid-19 guidelines after a police officer based in his office tested positive for the virus.
The union said operations in the building continued as usual after the officer, who was also responsible for screening employees, received his results.
Branch chairperson Norman Mavhunga said members of the senior management team, and other employees, were at the office at the time.
"That's why the office (of the premier) received a circular from the Department of Public Works on the guidelines to be followed.
"The building should have been closed and allowed employees to be tested and quarantined," Mavhunga said.
The union has since written a letter to the premier to raise concerns after staff said they were told to take unpaid leave when they requested to go into isolation.
It also claimed the premier explained in an email to staff that the police officer did not pose a risk as there was "no prolonged contact in the screening process".
The union described the explanation as "a self-serving definition of contact in ignorance of the WHO (World Health Organisation) standards".
In a letter, also copied to the chairperson of the National Command Council, and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosana Dlamini-Zuma, the union said the explanation was motivated by the "desire of a Covid-19 free office of the premier".
National police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo confirmed the police officer had tested positive.
He said the Polokwane police station was not temporarily closed because the officer had been working at the office of the premier. He said all other officers tested negative and were now at work.
The premier's spokesperson, Kenny Mathivha, said the police officer reported the positive result to his superiors because "the office of the premier does not employ SAPS personnel".
He said the officer tested positive at a time when the building was being disinfected and sanitised, hence there was no need for its temporary closure.
"From the reception to the fourth floor, every 10 steps there is a sanitiser station for employees. All employees have been given two cloth masks and they get screened.
"Nehawu, in all its depositions, accuses the premier. The premier is not the administrative head of his office. Nehawu has surely been on holiday for a long time and forgot what the duties of the premier are," Mathivha said.