So these people made R433 440 PER DAY off the SA firefighters in Canada?

For our latest report on updated figures of the earnings of Kishugu Holdings click here.

For Working on Fire’s own statement click here.


So, a private South African-based company called Kishugu Holdings -with its 25% BEE party in tow- won a tender under the very complicated auspices of the government’s Extended Public Works Programme (EPW) to supply training and ostensibly employment to mainly young black people as firefighters.

Its flagship program is the Working on Fire program (WoF). It was under WoF that we saw 301 dancing firefighters (at which point this writer became suspicious and cynical) arriving in Alberta, Canada as part of efforts to curb forest fires there.


A week or so later, the firefighters had downed their hoses, complaining that they were being exploited. Interesting story, very South African story I thought. It only really became truly truly truly shocking and offensive when I did some rough math based on the reported figures.

Kishugu earns $170 per fire fighter per day  from Alberta’s government. This is over and above the subsidies they receive from our own government under the EPW. Moreover, Alberta covers full accommodation and living expenses of each of the 301 firefighters. The pay for each firefighter is $15 per day while in Alberta plus $35 for each day of deployment (overseas allowance), which they receive on their return. Which leaves Kishugu with a whopping $120 per day per firefighter profit from this particular contract.

So here’s the math:

Kishugu makes $170 less the $50 ($15+$35 they pay“ workers), leaving them with $120 per firefighter per day.

That’s $120 x 301 = $36,120 PER DAY goes to Kishugu.

In rand terms they make a clean-ish profit of R433 440 PER DAY (assuming 12:1 R:Canadian Dollar).

Per week it’s R3 034 080, repeat: PER WEEK.

Per month it would’ve been R13m plus profit.

And yet, they paid their black staff fokol, treating them like the slaves they obviously think they are. Also predictably the real villains in this story, according to some amongst us, are the firefighters, for variously embarrassing South Africa, being greedy, being foolish, being black, all of the above. what a horribly typical south african story.

firefighter people


These are the guys who run the whole thing and their spouses, taken from an article where they state their intention to list Kishugu on Wall Street.

EWN reports Working on Fire CEO Johan Heine says the deployment of firefighters has never been about making money. He said, “We are busy now calculating a competitive salary because we can’t compare a wage in Canada directly with a wage in South Africa, so we are now redoing the budget.” In a statement on Facebook, the company also denies it was paying the workers just $50 per day.

Editor’s note: This has been republished, with permission from the author, from a Facebook posting. 

Featured image: Working on Fire on Twitter.