Out again: Police warn, release Amushelelo

Michael Amushelelo

Social activist and investment scheme operator Michael Amushelelo was yesterday given a police warning before being released.

This comes after he handed himself over to the police after attempting to close Rani Supermarket at Okuryangava in Windhoek.

Inspector general Joseph Shikongo yesterday confirmed Amushelelo was given a warning and allowed to leave.

“I was informed of the incident and I told the police to monitor the situation. As much as we did not have a case, I told the police to engage him and to inform him of the procedures he should go through in organising a protest. He went home,” he said.

Amushelelo has been arrested before for attempting to shut down Windhoek’s Chinatown, among other businesses.

Yesterday, he posted a live video on social media of himself telling employees and customers at Rani Supermarket that the shop was going to be shut down.

He could be heard in the video telling employees that the shop cannot be allowed to operate in Namibia after suspending 100 workers of the retailer’s Oshakati branch who participated in a strike due to alleged poor working relations.

“I’ve been called by the Wanaheda Police Station to hand myself over, as Rani Group has given instructions to the corrupt government to have me arrested. I am driving to hand myself over to the Namibian Police.

“My only request to the public is that failure by tomorrow 12h00 for the workers who have been suspended to go back to work, the shutdown must proceed, followed by a national boycott of all Rani Group shops,” Amushelelo posted.

The suspensions, which were confirmed by labour hire company Employee Placement Services of Namibia (EPSN), followed a Namibian Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF) protest at Oshakati last week Friday against Rani.

EPSN owner, Gottlieb Ndjendjela, who is also a Swapo councillor for the Tsumeb constituency, has confirmed the suspension of the Oshakati store’s employees.

Ndjendjela said the employees were not suspended due to their participation in the protest, but because they had left their duty stations without the permission of the EPSN.

“The bone of contention here is who gave you permission when you ran away from your duty?” he said.

He said 20 employees are currently on suspension, pending an investigation.

NEFF member of parliament (MP) Kalimbo Ipumbu yesterday confirmed that the party gave Rani Group until 12h00 today to reinstate the suspended employees and that Amushelelo went there to reiterate this message.

THE PROTEST

The workers of Rani Supermarket at Oshakati held a demonstration at the Rani Group of companies on 15 December, accompanied by the NEFF, where they attempted to do away with low salaries and demanded permanent employment, better working conditions, and overtime payment.

“We as workers have no job security at all. Management is using abusive language towards us workers. Salaries are too low, and we are working seven days a week with no overtime or Sunday payment.

“They say our salaries are fixed, but once someone goes on leave they only receive half of the fixed salary,” worker spokesperson Cornelius Nepela said before handing over a petition.

The workers have given the Rani Group management 48 hours to respond to their petition.

Accepting the petition, one of the Rani Group’s managers, who identified himself as ‘Mr Wayda’, said he would give the petition to relevant parties.

RANI SPEAKS

Ali Dharani from Rani Traders this week said the NEFF should provide proof of workers’ exploitation.

“If we are breaking any law in the country, they must report us to the relevant ministry. We are a law-abiding company and law-abiding citizens,” he said.

Asked why his company hires employees from a labour hire company rather than employing them directly, Dharani said: “That’s the choice of the management and the choice of the company.”

“If we are doing anything illegal, there should be action against that. Otherwise it’s a personal choice of the company.”

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