Cyprus Mail

Man arrested after rampage through welfare office

Photo: CyBC screen grab

By Constantinos Psillides

A 45-year-old man trashed the Welfare Service Offices in Limassol on Thursday after he was told he was no longer eligible for benefits, injuring a female employee.

She was taken to Limassol General Hospital but police said her injuries were slight.

The 45-year-old was in police custody later in the afternoon.

According to CyBC, the man barged into the welfare office at around 9.30am demanding an explanation as to why his benefits were cut.

He was told that he lost his benefits because he had money in a bank account. The explanation enraged the 45-year-old who started trashing the place. CyBC reported that he threw computers on the floor, broke tables and turned shelves over.

Once he struck the employee, the man fled the premises.

CyBC also reported that shortly after this incident, a second man, also looking beside himself, marched into the same office. No trouble ensued, but a female employee there was sufficiently scared that she fainted.

Employees at the welfare office in Limassol have previously requested police protection, claiming that they received threats and violent behaviour on a regular basis.

In May, a 29-year-old woman barged into the welfare office in Larnaca armed with an airgun and demanded that the supervisor give her money. The woman was arrested shortly after.

The incident sparked a reaction from employees in welfare offices all over Cyprus, who held a half-hour work stoppage the next day.

Andreas Assiotis, the labour ministry’s permanent secretary, said any acts of violence – no matter the cause – are inexcusable.

But he also suggested that recent media sensationalism on rejected applications for Guaranteed Minimum Income (GMI) did not help.

House Labour committee chairman Andreas Fakontis had told media on May 25 that around 1,200 beneficiaries of GMI would be cut from the scheme as their property values exceeded the ceiling for the benefit.

One can be eligible for GMI provided he or she does not have over €5,000 in cash or own property worth more than €100,000 – excluding primary homes.

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