Thursday, March 4, 2021

Court orders auction of embattled BNYC property

Property belonging to the embattled Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC) is expected to be sold under the hammer sometime this month. Gaborone High Court’s Justice Terrence Rannowane has ordered that the BNYC property be auctioned following failure to comply with a court order in a case in which its former Social Unit Manager had been awarded more than P1 million for unlawful dismissal. It has since emerged that BNYC did not defend the lawsuit after it was served with the papers nor did it honour a judgement in favour of Veronica Chube when she approached the court in 2012. On Friday at least eight vehicles, a considerable number of office furniture and office equipment belonging to the youth organisation was attached by the deputy sheriff at the instance of DM Mthinkhulu Attorneys.

Chube is demanding payment in the sum of P10 627 being balance of salary for the month of September 2012, payment in the sum of P15 460 being balance of the prorated gratuity for the six months worked and payment of damages being salary for the remainder of the contract in the sum of P693 330. She is also demanding payment of damage being gratuity for the remainder of the contract in the sum of P173 332, payment of damages being cell phone credit for the remainder of the contract in the sum of P15 000, payment of damages being leave pay for the remainder of the contract in the sum of P78 787 and 10 percent interest per annum on P10 627 and P15 460.

BNYC has to also pay interest per annum on P693 330, P173 332, P15 000 and P78 787 as well as pay costs for the suit. Court papers show that before dismissing Chube in 2012, BNYC attempted to unlawfully retrench her and other employees from employment. She challenged the retrenchment before the Industrial Court culminating with the parties entering into a settlement agreement which was made an order of the court. The settlement agreement provided among others that those employees of BNYC employed prior to 29 February 2012 will with effect from 1st September 2012 revert to earning monthly salaries allowances and other emoluments which they earned prior to 29 February 2012.

According to the Industrial Court agreement, those employees of BNYC who were employed “prior to 29 February 2012 will not be considered for retracement during the current financial year on account of financial inability of the company to pay their wages.” The agreement also stated that each of the employees of BNYC who were “employed after 29 February will with effect from 1st September 2012 have their remuneration revised down to the remuneration that correspond to that accruing to a similar post of an employee employed by BNYC prior to the 29 February 2012; the clause shall not affect any right accrued up to 31 August 2012.”

Chube states in court papers that purporting to act on the authority of the Industrial Court order agreement, BNYC unilaterally reduced her salary from P23 111 to P12 484 as from 1st of September 2012. She objected stating that the reduction of her salary was wrongful and amounted to fundamental breach of the contract of employment. She said the unlawful termination was a disguised retrenchment which had been dealt with by industrial court.

However BNYC persisted with its decision to reduce her salary and on 27 September, Chube received a letter from BNYC terminating her employment. Court papers show that upon termination of Chube’s employment, BNYC paid her P12 484 as one month’s salary in lieu of notice, P14 791 for accrued leave pay and prorated gratuity for six months worked in the sum of P19 205. Chube however challenged the decision before the High Court and it ruled in her favour but BNYC did not honour the court’s order hence the latest court order that its belongings should be attached.

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