Woolworths employees cry harassment
Fed-up female employees from Woolworths warehouse in Gaborone claim they are regularly subjected to over-the-top, humiliating body searches after work.
The women believe the intrusive security searches, which often require them to strip, are unlawful and violate their human rights.
It appears that six employees who refused to be searched have been sacked, with numerous others resigning in protest at the degrading policy.
The workers have accused the G4S security officer in charge of the frisking, Susan Masimolole, of abusing her powers, often touching their private parts and insulting them during the search.
They also claim that the officer applies traditional medicine to her hands before conducting the extensive examination, which is carried out to ensure the staff are not stealing.
Outlining their concerns to The Voice this week, a number of Woolworths employees claimed that they were frequently forced to undress and remove their sanitary pads during the security checks.
“She (Masimolole) sometimes touches the pads, presses our private parts and teases us that our vaginal discharge smells bad,” complained one employee, who insisted on anonymity for fear of how her employers would react.
Another disgruntled employee described Masimolole as a ‘bully officer’ and said, “We are fired if we do not comply with the search. Susan sometimes threatens us that we can die if we dare touch her!”
The whistle-blowers insisted that management at the warehouse have long been informed of the ‘unlawful searches’ but claim instead of putting a stop to it, they actually encourage the ‘barbaric act’.
The worried workers have also reported the matter to the Cashiers, Shop assistants and Allied Workers Union (CASAWU).
This was confirmed by CASAWU’s Secretary General, Opelo Baleseng, who revealed the union then sent a request to the Department of Labour, asking them to intervene.
“However, the union did not report the harassment case to the police, to prevent victimisation of employees,” continued Baleseng.
Unhappy with the lack of action, last Wednesday employees took the issue to Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskings Nkaigwa.
When reached for comment, the MP said that if the accusations are proved to be true, they constitute a violation of the workers’ human rights.
“It is all abuse of employees. I had a meeting with the Woolworths management to hear their side of the story and I will take the matter to the relevant authorities,” said Nkaigwa.
Meanwhile, the officer at the centre of the controversy refused to comment and referred the publication to G4S office headquarters.
At the time of going to press, the G4S office failed to respond to the questionnaire sent from this publication.
However, the Woolworths cooperate press officer, Nelisa Mpofana confirmed they were aware of the incident and are currently conducting an internal investigation.