Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Motiganz Botswana rocked by allegations of maladministration

Staff and former employees of Motiganz Botswana, a diamond and polishing company based in Mogoditshane, also a subsidiary of Motiganz Diamond Group , have raised concerns about what they term ill-treatment, sexual abuse and unfair dismissals by the company management.

The company employs approximately 250 staff, ninety percent of whom are female. Employees who spoke to this publication claim unfair dismissals.

One Gorata Kgosietsile claims she was suspended and subsequently replaced without even a warning or a proper hearing for talking back at a senior employee. “When I tried to explain exactly what had transpired a Human Resource Manager told me to shut up … and he would always be quick to remind us that we are not educated,” she explained.

She, however, did not attempt to seek redress with the relevant authorities. Another axed employee says she was dismissed for no apparent reasons. She accused the management of favouring expatriates at the expense of locals.

She quoted Clifford Mogomotsi (Human Resource Manager) as having said he rates expatriates more than locals because locals can easily be replaced.

Gofamodimo Nkwe says she was dismissed without explanation after being made to work two months without a contract.

“They would not let me sign a contract despite my protests.” she says.

Charity Batlhomile says she resigned because she was fed up with the way management treated staff.
“You could easily be fired just for having a misunderstanding with an expatriate employee,” she says.

And yet another disgruntled former employee, Sharon Modiagane, says she was fired for “allegedly” cracking a diamond.

“I was summoned to the boss’s office and told I had cracked a stone I had worked on three days earlier,” she said. “According to procedure, after one works on a stone it has to pass through other people for check-up and should there be anything amiss, one would be notified immediately.”

She also claims she was dismissed without so much as a warning.

A host of other former Motiganz Botswana employees who spoke to this publication claimed unfair dismissals and treatment by the management and their refusal to provide dismissed employees with references.

The Telegraph is in possession of a copy of a letter, titled ‘EMPOLYEES RECORD OF SERVICE’, and signed by ‘Personnel Manager’ (Clifford Mogomotsi), which clearly states: “It is company policy not to issue references .”

Speaking to the Sunday Standard at the company office in Mogoditshane, Mogomotsi dismissed all accusations of inequitable treatment and dismissal of employees levelled against the management.
“It is natural for employees to get disgruntled and attempt to tarnish the image of their former employer after being dismissed. We do not have any cases of unfair dismissals recorded with the Industrial Court, which validates our decisions,” he said.

Mogomotsi, however, admits they have occasionally been summoned to the Labour Office but is quick to quip “…the labour office is only a mediator, they can only advice.”

Some of the current employees also complain about the treatment they receive from the management vis-à-vis that of expatriates.

“They employ Chinese nationals who do not have any qualifications, know nothing about diamonds and cannot even speak English and expect us to train them yet they receive ridiculously higher wages and other perks, including free accommodation and 100 percent medical aide while we get close to nothing,” said one staff member, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Mogomotsi, however, disagrees, saying their expatriates are well qualified and bring special skills for which there is no training locally, hence better wages than the locals.

Another employee alleges she has at times been approached by the management to help expose anyone making a mistake so they could be sacked.

“They said they wanted to retrench staff by sacking people, even for the slightest of mistakes,” he said.

The employees also accuse the director of using sexual favours as the basis for promotion and job security.

“The director is involved in sexual relationships with some of the staff and at times he would employ a girl he met randomly at night while he was out gallivanting … The Company does not advertise vacancies,” another member of staff says.

The day I was fired, I asked the driver if he knew why I was being let go and he told me it was because I did not offer myself to Dayan for sex,” said Keneilwe Kefitlhile, a former housekeeper at the director’s residence.

He is alleged to have, at one point, bought some of his alleged sexual exploits some Blackberry smart-phones as a token of appreciation.

But in an interview, Motiganz Botswana Director, Modehay Dayan, refuted the sexual allegations.

“Look at me,” he said, “I am a frail 64-year-old man with cancer. How can I be accused of sexual harassment?”

In addition, Dayan has also been accused of smuggling diamonds by some of his staff.

“Every time he arrives back from Israel or China he brings with him some rough diamonds for cutting and polishing which he then takes back once they are done,” an employee said.

However, Mogomotsi rubbished the reports as baseless. “How would they pass unnoticed through all that tight overseas airport security?” he retorts.

The Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime could not confirm if they have ever investigated the company regarding illegal trading of diamonds.

“Please be advised that the DCEC Act prohibits communication to the media about reported cases or those under investigation. Therefore, we can neither confirm nor deny that we have such a report,” said Nlayidzi Gambule, DCEC’s acting Public Relations Officer.

Mogomotsi also refuted claims that the company steals electricity from a nearby Botswana Power Cooperation source to power their production plant, bribing a BPC employee and employing his daughter (Both whose names are known to this publication).

Our investigations, however, revealed that the company had at one point been investigated for a similar offence and subsequently charged by the Botswana Power Corporation.

“The company has once been found to be stealing electricity from one of our sources and were charged accordingly. We will investigate again to ensure they do not repeat the same offence,” said Charles Chalashika, BPC’s Loss Control Unit.

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