Former Bidvest Namibia employee Samuel Namupolo claims his supervisor at the company forced him to take off his work uniform after reporting for work late three weeks ago.
Part of his transgressions, Namupolo says, was attending an ‘illegal’ strike on 2 June, organized by the Namibian Security Guards and Watchmen Union and the Trade Unions Congress of Namibia.
He says he had to endure the humiliation of walking around in his underwear at Grove Mall until security guards came to his rescue.
“I arrived late for work at around 07h30, however, my supervisor, Selma, said it was okay and that I could proceed to work as usual.
“At around 12h00 my supervisor called me to the office, where I met with the manager and another gentleman asking me to hand over my uniform.
“They told me it was my last day working for the company. I gave him my access card, and he requested that I remove my uniform as well.
“I asked him why and he said I was late and that I took part in an illegal strike,” Namupolo says.
He has since opened a case of crimen injuria with the police.
“I felt really embarrassed and I had bad thoughts, however, the spirit of God came over me and told me to just return the uniform,” Namupolo says.
He says his manager, Albertus Diergaardt, subjected him to both verbal and physical abuse following his refusal to hand over the uniform on a cold winter’s morning.
He claims his supervisor, only known as ‘Selma’, manhandled him and tried to remove his uniform without his permission.
“The supervisor grabbed me by the uniform, saying ‘we want our uniform, take it off’. The shirt tore as she tugged, and that is when I left the office moving backwards through the door.”
Namupolo says while walking around the mall, security guards from the Rubicon Security took him to the guard room and gave him back his uniform.
Commenting on the incident, Diergaardt says Namupolo was a temporary employee who was requested to return his uniform because the person he was relieving had returned and the uniform was company property.
“I told him the period for the person he was relieving is done now, so the person is coming back.
“I don’t have an opening for him any more. So, he had to wash my uniform, because it is still company property,” Diergaardt says.
Legal practitioner Rachel Mondo says the incident involves mistreatment.
“Because of our racial history, which translates into employment relations, workers have been treated as if they were less than human.
“Workers deserve to be treated with human dignity, which is recognised under article 8 of our Constitution. Article 8 (2)(b)(b) says ‘no persons shall be subject to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’.”
‘Selma’ could yesterday not be reached for comment as her cellphone was off.