Furniture store manager accused of unfair dismissal

Micheal Shalumbu

Employees of a well known furniture store at Swakopmund have accused their general manager of racism, threatening behaviour and unfair dismissal.

The manager, who cannot be named as she has not been arrested or made an appearance in court, allegedly dismissed an employee and ordered security guards to assault him when he refused to leave the company premises.

When contacted, the manager declined to comment and referred all queries to the store’s managing director Francois Wahl.

Employee Micheal Shalumbu (33) says he has worked for the furniture store for 11 years as a general assistant and driver.

He says the manager, who joined the company not more than a year ago, allegedly summoned him to her office on 5 April and presented him with some documents, which she demanded he sign.

“I just came to work as usual and proceeded to do my daily work and I was told that the manager was asking for me in her office. She gave papers, which she demanded I sign, claiming I was being suspended for failing to assist customers. I did not understand because I was the one who mostly assisted customers, I refused to sign because her accusations were false.

“From there, she went to call security officers to come and remove me from the premises. While waiting for the security guards. I personally called the police. The security guards started assaulting me and pushing me and I told them to wait for the police.

An employee who spoke on condition of anonymity says: “She (manger) seems to have issues with all the employees she found here, as she keeps on looking for faults in all of us. In the short time that she is here, I have already been suspended three times. I have worked here for more than nine years without any faults. We know our work and she knows we know our work. She is just being racist because we are black.”

Another employee, who also opted for anonymity says: “That woman comes to work with a gun and we have reported this to top management on many occasions but nothing is done. She threatens us with a gun.”

Shalumbu has since lodged a case of assault against the security company, however, he says nothing has come of it so far.

Speaking to The Namibian yesterday, Wahl said the company takes action against unruly employees in accordance with internal disciplinary procedures and in compliance with labour laws.

“There is always two sides to a story and when some employees have to face disciplinary actions, they will not be happy. Yes, we had two staff members that had to be let go but that doesn’t mean we are unfairly treating our staff.

“We had a situation where a certain employee was served with a suspension letter, but he refused to leave the premises. He started shouting at our manager, who got uncomfortable, and security was called in. He pushed one of the guards to the floor and that was when the guards physically assaulted him.

“This is unfortunate for me, because I love all my employees and as far as I know, we have always had a good working relationship. There are of course some bad apples,” Wahl said.

Erongo police chief inspector Ileni Shapumba confirmed that a case of assault with grievous bodily harm was registered against a security company by Shalumbu. However, he said investigations are still ongoing as there has not been enough evidence presented to the police by Shalumbu for an arrest to be made.

“We are still investigating. The police are on the case and action will be taken,” said Shapumba.

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