Investigation into 'faeces' incident inconclusive

20 Jun 2013 12:40
WINDHOEK, 20 JUN (NAMPA) - An investigation by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare could not determine whether a China Town employee had in fact been made to dispose of the faeces of her employers.
A local daily reported earlier this week said the employee at shop number 16 at the China Town complex in Windhoek, Asteria Shivute had allegedly unknowingly been made to dispose of the faeces of her employers over the past weekend while taking out the shop?s rubbish.
President Hifikepunye Pohamba then ordered a probe into the incident, and the Ministry of Labour assembled a team to investigate the matter.
Labour and Social Welfare Deputy Minister Alpheus Muheua on Thursday presented the findings of the report which was handed over to the President following the investigation.
Muheua said the owner of the shop, An Yong Shi had claimed that the faeces was that of a dog as operators of several outlets at the shopping complex own dogs that roam freely at night, while Shivute insisted that it was human faeces.
The deputy minister said the team which inspected random shops found out that An Yong Shi did not alert Shivute that he had allegedly removed dog faeces from the entrance of the shop and placed it in a box.
?Given such omission, whether by intent or by default, An Yong Shi had caused Shivute to assume that the faeces could have been that of a human being, despite the availability of two working toilets in the shop,? Muheua said.
The team could not conclusively determine whether the faeces was that of a human being or dog as the box had already been disposed of by the municipality.
He said it would have made a big difference in the findings if the matter was reported immediately before the faeces was removed.
?Given the various versions of the parties involved and the lack of evidence to establish whether or not the faeces complained about was that of a human being or not, the investigation team was unable to take punitive measures against the employer,? the deputy minister stated.
He went on to say the ministry condemns such practices, adding that his (Muheua)'s office sent out a strong message to all employers who may be perpetrating the same practices to ?stop forthwith?.
Muheua said irrespective of whether it was human faeces or dog faeces in this incident, such practices border on the degradation of human dignity, a violation of human rights and indicative of a poor and humiliating work environment.
He noted that the ministry issued a warning to the owner of the shop that Shivute should not be dismissed from work for reporting the matter, and she must report anything that could happen to her as a result of this incident to the ministry.
The deputy minister said upon the submission of the report to the Head of State, the President expressed utmost dismay and strongly condemned such practices in the strongest terms.
He said Pohamba urged Chinese business people to strictly follow the business patterns and practices which are followed by other business people in this country.
The President further called on trade unions to get actively involved and investigate such incidents, and to alert the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare so that tangible evidence is not destroyed.
He urged workers who fall victim to such degrading practices to report such cases without any fear of victimisation and to not allow concrete evidence to be destroyed.
This week?s incident follows another in March this year when a Chinese supervisor of a shop situated in Otjiwarongo's Central Business District allegedly relieved herself in plastic bags, and then asked her staff to discard it.
A former worker of Nand Chinese Shop, Emma Kadhidhi told Nampa at the time that she was fired on 28 February this year after she refused to pick up one of the plastic bags filled with human waste.
She said she had been expected to discard the bags every morning and afternoon since joining that shop as a floor assistant on 07 July 2012.