Stolen fish triggers mass disciplinary steps
The disciplinary hearings for more than 300 employees at the Lüderitz-based fishing company NovaNam are still continuing after a huge consignment of fish were stolen at the company.
The employees are suspected to have stolen 474 bags of fish, weighing about 2,5 tonnes, from the company on 29 June this year.
According to the Lüderitz branch organiser of Namibia Food and Allied Union (Nafau), Jacob Penda, in total, 322 employees have been suspended after the fish went missing during the night shift at the production department of the company.
He charged that the company is holding all the employees responsible who worked during that specific shift when the fish was stolen.
Penda told Namibian Sun that that the disciplinary hearings for 25 employees have been completed of which 21 employees are senior supervisors at the company.
According to him, these supervisors are being charged with gross negligence and failure to act in the interest of the company. The rest of the employees are all charged of removing company property of fish without authorisation, being in possession of company property without the having the right to do so, and failure to act in the interest of the company.
The disciplinary hearings for the other 298 employees are expected to start within the next week.
While it has been alleged that the employees were able to sneak the fish through the gates at the company because the security guards did not even search through their cars, it was reported that most of the fish was recovered inside the company premises.
Penda told Namibian Sun that the security company had apparently not been paid by Novanam for three months.
Novanam only learned about the crime on 30 June, and according to Penda, the services of the security company were terminated that same day.
Asked about details on how the theft occurred, he said that detailed information has not been related to them.
Penda, however, stressed it is unacceptable that the company is holding all the employees responsible and that that there is no evidence that implicates the other 298 employees in the theft.
“The company is blaming everybody who was on duty that day, irrespective of whether the employees even work in that department or with the products. The company has been taking all employees to disciplinary hearings without the proper evidence.”
He further said that they are in the process of dealing with the disciplinary hearings and will try to get to the bottom of this. “We want the hearings to be fair and identify the true culprits. The company cannot just say that everybody was involved.”
The company's general manager, David Pokolo, told the Namibian Sun that they can confirm that several tons of fish were stolen from its factory in Lüderitz.
“The matter is being dealt with internally. The company is currently following the disciplinary code strictly and the procedures are in keeping with the Namibian law. Hence it is being viewed as sub-judice, and therefore the case is not allowed to be discussed in order to protect the independence and integrity of the investigation and the case.”