Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Debswana faces multi million pula group action

In a ground breaking case, the High Court in Lobatse is expected to make a ruling on whether employers can play sneaky and privacy invading tricks on their workers, like planting secret Closed Circuit TV (CCTV) cameras in their toilets.

This follows a multi million pula test case that is being launched by Debswana employees in Orapa who are demanding compensation after their privacy was violated when the world’s leading diamond miner planted secret surveillance cameras in their toilets.
Lawyers acting for aggrieved Debswana employees in the class action suit, Boko Motlhala Rabashwa Ketshabile, have been negotiating with Debswana lawyers, Collins Newman and Company, for an out of court settlement that has failed, and now the matter is being referred to the High Court.

Duma Boko, who is acting for Debswana workers, is expected to serve summons on Debswana this week.

The case follows revelations earlier this year that management at the world’s leading diamond miner planted secret surveillance cameras in one of the toilets used by employees at Orapa mine.
The employees saw the camera and immediately lodged a complaint with management.

The Sunday Standard is in possession of copies of formal correspondence from Managing Director Blackie Marole to all members of staff conceding that the “Treatment Plant employees have filed a grievance, which is being treated according to the mine’s well established grievance procedures.”

Marole further stated that “Debswana Management has instituted an investigation following the lodging of a complaint about the existence of a security camera in a particular area of the Completely Automated Recovery Plant in Orapa.”

The findings of the investigations have, however, not been made public.
Although it is not known when exactly the camera was installed, Debswana insiders are pointing a finger at one of the shareholders, De Beers.

It was the De Beers technical team that managed and supervised the expansion of Orapa plants in 2000, under the ambitions Orapa 2000 Project.
At the time, the top management had also not been localized.

The incident has provided a whip to the Mine Workers Union which has been at loggerheads with management since a strike action two and a half years ago that saw close to five hundred of the union members sacked.

In an earlier interview, Mine Workers Union Chairman, Chimbidzani Chimidza, told The Sunday Standard that “it just goes to show the kind of people that they are. Toilets are a private place where people relive themselves. But Debswana Management will stop at nothing in their efforts to ridicule and belittle the company employees. There can never be any justifiable excuse for spying on the employees to an extent of using covert cameras at their toilets. It’s all about the mentality of Debswana Management,” said Chimidza.

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The Telegraph September 30

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 30, 2020.