Court gives interdict to stop threats from Amushelelo

Michael Amushelelo

A High Court judge has issued an interim interdict to stop social activist Michael Amushelelo and a group of 26 Namib Mills employees from unlawfully blocking entrances to the company’s premises and threatening to shut down its operations.

The interim order was issued by judge Hannelie Prinsloo in the Windhoek High Court yesterday. The interdict is in effect until 3 May at this stage.

Namib Mills applied for the order after Amushelelo and a group of disgruntled workers blocked the entrance to one of the company’s premises in Windhoek three weeks ago.

Amushelelo has also been making accusations against Namib Mills on social media and has been threatening to close down the company, which he is accusing of unfair labour practices, the court was informed.

In terms of the court’s order, Amushelelo and the workers involved in the matter may not engage in any unlawful conduct at Namib Mills’ premises in Windhoek and at Otavi, Ondangwa, Katima Mulilo, Walvis Bay and Keetmanshoop.

They may not blockade the entrances to Namib Mills’ premises, may not threaten to shut down the company’s operations, and may not make threats against the company if Namib Mills does not comply with their demands, according to the order.

They have also been ordered not to come within 70 metres of Namib Mills’ premises.

The court further ordered the Namibian Police to take any necessary measures to give effect to the court’s order.

Prinsloo issued the interim interdict after Amushelelo told her in court yesterday that he and the other respondents being sued by Namib Mills want to get legal representation, or would need a few weeks to prepare their response to Namib Mills’ urgent application if they decide not to engage a lawyer to represent them.

In an affidavit filed at the court, Namib Mills industrial relations specialist Carina Zerbe said during March Amushelelo made statements on social media in which he has been accusing the company of trying to dismiss some of its employees, and warned Namib Mills “to be prepared for serious retaliation and consequences”.

Amushelelo made the statements in his capacity as general secretary of the National Union of Retail Industry Workers of Namibia, which is not an officially registered trade union and with which Namib Mills does not have a recognition agreement, Zerbe said.

In her affidavit she also said there are 13 employees of the company who are facing disciplinary charges in connection with allegations of theft.

Amushelelo said in one social media message: “They must be prepared for a complete and total disruption of all their business activities, we will not allow our people to be exploited.”

In another social media message he also said: “This company must be on High Alert because I am certainly going to Shut them Down.” (sic)

In a further message placed on social media in March, Amushelelo threatened: “They should double the amount of Security guards, because No Army, Police or Court is going to Stop me from Shutting Down his Company.” (sic)

Zerbe informed the court that Amushelelo, six Namib Mills employees and 20 employees of a labour hire company contracted to do work for Namib Mills blocked the entrance to a depot of the company in Windhoek on 11 March, preventing the making of deliveries from the depot for about three hours.

She added that their actions that day were a show of force and a message to the company that it should not take Amushelelo’s threat to cause a nationwide disruption of Namib Mills’ operations lightly.

According to its own calculations, the company will suffer damages of more than N$3,7 million a day if a full-blown shutdown of its operations happened, Zerbe said as well.

Amushelelo again adopted a belligerent tone during court proceedings before Prinsloo yesterday.

“I’m going to ensure that companies such as this cannot exist or are unable to operate profitably,” he remarked at one point, adding that this was because of “racist conduct” by the company.

After Prinsloo cautioned him that his remarks might not do his own case any good, Amushelelo also said: “Right now, war has been declared.”

Namib Mills was represented by legal counsel Natasha Bassingthwaighte, instructed by Jaco Boltman, during the hearing in court.

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