Oshakati hospital cleaners claim unfair dismissals over taking leftover food

…hospital official says leftover food is meant to feed pigs

Some cleaners at Oshakati Intermediate Hospital are unhappy with the dismissal of four colleagues they claim were unfairly dismissed for eating leftover food from patients’ trays.

The cleaners, who spoke to The Namibian last Tuesday on condition of anonymity, alleged that it is common practice for them to take left-over food from patients’ trays after they have finished eating.

According to them, this food would otherwise be thrown away, and they see no harm in taking it to their houses for their own consumption.

This, however, resulted in four cleaners being dismissed from their jobs between January 2023 and January 2024.

The cleaners believe these dismissals were unjust and are calling for the reinstatement of their colleagues.

“Security guards catch us with food and take us to Kandjeke (their supervisor), who demands a written confession,” said one cleaner.

“We refuse, as we haven’t stolen anything. We simply take remnant food while cleaning.”

“It’s unfair,” another cleaner said.

“Taking remnant food isn’t theft, unlike officials stealing hospital computers and facing no consequences.

“We are saying we are not guilty because we have not stolen the food. We took remnant food when we were cleaning,” one of the cleaners said.

They say after they have been asked to write a letter, they will be called for a disciplinary hearing and will later be dismissed.

“We feel that this is not fair, because we don’t take the food from the storeroom, because if we take it from the storeroom that constitutes theft and warrants dismissal but taking remnant food is not a crime,” another cleaner said.

They say they are not issued with a warning after being caught in possession of remnant food.

“They dismiss us forthwith, but they don’t do the same with officials who steal computers from hospital offices.”

Oshakati Intermediate Hospital medical superintendent Ruben Kanime did not answer numerous calls and text messages sent to his cellphone last week and yesterday.

The cleasers say they held a meeting with their supervisor Jerobeam Kandjeke last month to discuss the issue, but the meeting did not bring a lasting solution to the matter.

Kandjeke told The Namibian last week he was unable to comment on the matter as he is not permitted to talk to the media.
“Call the hospital management,” Kandjeke said.

However, hospital officials maintain that the food is not supposed to be taken out of the hospital.

“There is someone who has a pig farm, certified by the ministry of health, and that is the person who is allowed to take the food to feed his pigs,” a hospital official who spoke on condition of anonymity said.

“We cannot allow people to take remnant food from the hospital because we don’t know why they are going to use it. Sometimes this food is taken to their house to feed those who work for those who steal the food, which may also lead to cross contamination or cross infection,” the official said.

The official said apart from taking left-over food, some cleaners steal raw meat from the hospital.

Last year, The Namibian reported that feral cats were roaming the Oshakati Intermediate Hospital wards looking for food. The cats reportedly jump onto the patients’ beds looking for leftover food.

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