Shoprite workers displeased with police officers’ behaviour

Apology demanded
Adolf Kaure
Swakopmund • [email protected]

Approximately 50 aggrieved workers of the Shoprite Group Namibia marched from the NANWU offices to the Swakopmund police station today where the group handed over a petition addressed to the head of the Namibian Police Force, lieutenant general Sebastian Ndeitunga.

In the petition the workers voice their disapproval at the manner in which NamPol officers treated them and members of the public during their industrial action.

In reading the petition, the worker’s spokesperson Charmine Kazutjike stated that they are disappointed by the action and misconduct of members of the police force against striking Shoprite employees.

The workers also accuse Shoprite of violating the strike rules, which they signed with the Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (NAFAU) on 7 December.

“This was reported to NamPol on several occasion. They declined to intervene saying that such conduct relates to labour issues and the police have no obligation to interfere with labour matters,” Kazutjike said.

According to her, despite the High Court of Namibia ordering Shoprite on 8 January not to hire or allow any seasonal workers or managers to replace striking employees during a lawful strike which started on 23 December, the retail store still hired seasonal employees to do so at all Shoprite and Checkers stores.

The petition was received by the Swakopmund police station commander, chief inspector Moses Aebeb on behalf of the regional commander of Erongo commissioner Andreas Nelumbu. He promised to forward it to the relevant authorities.

Kazutjike also condemned the brutality of police officers against unarmed striking workers and civilians at Oshakati.

“About 20 fellow striking workers, including some members of the public, were beaten and shot at by the police on 15 January. Gabriel Haimbo and Thomas Nahole are two of the striking employees who were shot and injured before they were admitted to the Oshakati State Hospital.”

Kazutjike said that the striking workers are aggrieved and disappointed by such action and condemn it in the strongest terms.

“The police have an obligation and duty to maintain law and order and to protect all citizens. At this point in the countrywide strike, the police are only protecting the company. Police are deployed at all Shoprite stores and guarding the shop every day as if they are employed by Shoprite, instead of protecting Namibians against any form of exploitation and noncompliance of the law of this country.”

She demanded on behalf of the employees, that NamPol’s regional commander in Oshana, commissioner Rauha Amwele, publicly apologise to Shoprite workers and to members of the public who were beaten and shot at by the police on 15 January in Oshakati.

The commissioner was given a deadline of 26 January to render his apology.

Community members, political parties as well as trade unions like NAFAU are standing in solidarity with the workers in a strike which has now been continuing for more than four weeks.