Debswana wins unfair dismissal case against employee

Bame Piet

She demanded P1.8 million and lost with costs

The Industrial Court in Gaborone has cleared Debswana Mining Company of any wrongdoing in the dismissal of Kelebogile Moesi in July 2017.

The Court said it was satisfied that Debswana followed procedure and Labour Law to dismiss Moesi who had absconded from work for several days.

“The Applicant’s claim for unlawful dismissal shall be dismissed with costs for lack of merit .Debswana shall pay Moesi the sum of P28 692.16 which represents her withheld wages, and there shall be no order to costs,” said Justice Gaedupe Makgato

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Moesi who was employed in Orapa as an electrical engineer for a decade had dragged the company to court for unlawful dismissal and demanding to be compensated a 36-month salary in the sum of P1,845, 468.00.

She said her dismissal was procedurally unfair, and that the disciplinary hearing which led to her dismissal was in violation of the Double Standard Rule.

Furthermore, she demanded P37 262.40 as withheld wages.

She also alleged that her supervisor, Lefoko Sethoko was hellbent on dismissing her, and that he verbally abused her, something that made her workplace a living hell.

She alleged that at some point Sethoko touched her butt, used unpleasant language to degrade her in front of her peers and that the efforts by the management to reconcile them were in vain.

On the other hand Sethoko denied the allegations of sexual and verbal abuse.

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He stated that Moesi was a habitual absentee who either came to work late or did not show up without prior notification to him as her supervisor.

He said this had happened for many months while he was Moesi’s supervisor and this caused some friction in their working relationship, which deteriorated beyond repair following her application for leave in January 2017.

Moesi applied for leave on January, 13, 2017 to travel to Gaborone to prepare for her late mother’s tombstone unveiling.

She told the Court that once in Gaborone she realised that she needed two more days but when she tried to reach Sethoko, his phone rang unanswered.

She extended her leave nonetheless, and she was later involved in a road accident during her stay in Gaborone, only to return to work on the 19th of January, prompting the supervisor to call for disciplinary hearing.

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“The nut and pith of the applicant’s defence is that her absenteeism was authorised by her supervisor Mr Sethoko, a narrative that Mr Sethoko has vehemently denied. In a nutshell Sethoko denied Moesi’s claim that her absence on 16 to 18 January was lawful. He denied ever extending Moesi’s leave,” observed the judge.

The disciplinary hearing was delayed for several weeks, then months because Moesi said she was not well on several occasions, forcing postponement until July 2017.

Sethoko denied Moesi’s allegations of sexual harassment saying that that he only touched Moesi during one incident to help her get into a truck.

“In evaluating his evidence, I give Mr Sethoko credit for having admitted allegations that he could have easily denied. For instance, he admitted talking about Moesi’s physical appearance; and he admitted to have pushed the applicant up a flatbed truck when she was struggling to pull herself up. These admissions amongst other things, credit Mr Sethoko as a witness whose evidence could be relied on,” said the judge before he dismissed the case.

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