Namibia: Laid-Off Guards Still Without Severance Pay

FORMER African King Security Company Services CC guards are still waiting for their severance payouts, almost four months after they were laid off without prior warning.

The company was providing security services for the //Kharas Regional Council (KRC), including offices and schools under the //Kharas education directorate.

According to some former guards, the company’s contract with the KRC ended in June.

“We were only informed by the government officials when we reported for duty that our company’s contract had expired,” said one of the former workers.

The organiser of the Keetmanshoop branch of the Namibia Independent Security Union, Lukas Moyyo, yesterday said about 48 guards were affected.

The group, which is still waiting for the company to pay them severance packages after being laid off four months ago, have now approached the labour office for intervention.

“The security company and the former workers are currently embroiled in an arbitration matter,” he added.

Moyyo revealed that the company’s owner, Simon Negumbo, failed to attend the first arbitration meeting which was scheduled for 14 October, and had requested for a postponement.

In a leaked letter dated 6 October to the labour ministry requesting a postponement of the arbitration hearing, Negumbo acknowledged that he owes the workers.

However, he disputed the amounts they claimed to be owed in unpaid salaries.

According to him, the company was unable to pay the workers because of the government’s failure to pay the company’s invoices for the past 34 months.

“We, however, wish to inform you that we have instructed our lawyers to engage the //Kharas Regional Council with the view for the council to settle our outstanding invoices,” the letter stated.

Moyyo yesterday took issue with the postponement request granted to the security company by the labour office at Keetmanshoop.

He argued that the applicants and respondent had not agreed on the rescheduling of the arbitration proceedings as stipulated in terms of the Labour Act, and the postponement was thus granted unlawfully.

The ministry disagreed in response, stating that the postponement was granted on the merit of the request by the security company owner. The arbitration proceedings would thus only be held early next year.

//Kharas Regional Council chief executive officer Beatus Kasete could not be reached for comment.

He also failed to respond to a question sent to him via text message regarding claims that council had defaulted on paying the company’s invoices.

Negumbo said he could not comment as he was in a meeting.

One of the affected workers, Katrina Seister, yesterday told The Namibian that her landlord had evicted her as she was unable to pay her monthly rent of N$800.

She charged that the landlord had allegedly also assaulted her, hitting her with a broom on her mouth when she came to collect her belongings after being evicted.

Seister said had the company paid them their outstanding monies, she would not have gone through the hardships of being assaulted and evicted.

Another former worker, Elrieta Garoës, said they risk having their furniture repossessed.

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