By Confidente Reporter
AN entrepreneur, Billy Kuhanga, who allegedly subjected a San family of nine to deplorable living conditions and gave them sub-standard food while they worked on a fence project for him between Windhoek and Okahandja was recently ordered by the Ministry of Labour to reimburse and transport them back to their Uitkoms farm in the Otjozondjupa region.
The Ministry intervened after the group that lived in makeshift tents nearly 400 metres from the Windhoek/ Okahandja roadblock alerted the police of their poor living conditions and complained about working on empty stomachs most of the time.
When Confidente visited them recently, they were grilling a bird on an open fire that they ate with leftover porridge from the night before. Nearby were their makeshift tents, some made of black plastics bags with thin blankets scattered on the ground where they slept. “We complained to police officers at the roadblock because we were tired of the way we were living for three weeks. We slept in the open and it’s so cold. Our boss only bought food when it suited him and he only bought mealie meal, a small bag of salt and cooking oil. Sometimes we ate porridge with water,” said a 59 year-old who preferred anonymity.
According to the elder, their boss who is also his friend approached them saying he got a tender to put up a fence between Windhoek and Okahandja and that he would pay them N$6 000 per kilometre.
The elder however revealed Tuesday that in the absence of labour officials Kuhanga paid them N$70 each with the view that they only managed to work two kilometres. “In total he paid us N$900 after giving us extra on top of the N$70 that he paid each person.”
Kuhanga however refused to disclose how much he paid his former workers when approached for comment.
Labour Inspector, Ipumbu Indongo said that they attended to the complaint because of the employees’ pitiable living conditions, particularly on the accomodation provided by Kuhanga and claims that they were not provided with food rations as required by the labour laws. “The affected employees were no longer employed by this particular employer during the time of inspection as they have voluntarily terminated their services. They were found already packing their belongings to leave the site. However, the Ministry directed the employer to remunerate his former employees for work done and give them transport fares or transport them to their place of origin as per section 36 of the Labour Act. The employer opted to transport them himself and this has been done,” Ipumbu said. Ipumbu explained that according to the law, if an employee is required to live at the place of employment, the employer must provide the employee with adequate housing including sanitary and water facilities. Ipumbu however said that while there are instances where employers have no alternative but to offer accommodations to their employees where work is being done, they (employers) are still urged to ensure that they provide appropriate accommodation under the circumstances to the employees which does not endanger their health and safety.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015