Chained worker 'joke' backfires

18 April 2019 | Labour

Nic Kruger, the owner of Kruger Trading Enterprises (KTE) Custom Body Work in Windhoek, yesterday vehemently defended the honour of his foreman who had chained a worker to a car in their workshop.

Kruger expressed disappointment with the fact that the police dragged his foreman out of the workshop without “reading him his rights” or getting “the other side” of the story.

Kruger insisted that it was nothing but a “bad joke” and that they were two weeks behind with their work.

The foreman, who was identified only as Franna, has been suspended.

A video clip of the worker, who identified himself as Nicodemus, with a chain around his waist circulated on social media this week.

Kruger told Namibian Sun in an interview yesterday that Franna had made a simple joke. It was not his intention to stir up trouble and he did it without realising what the implications would be.

Kruger also emphasised that he had not ordered the foreman to chain any worker and that he was not at the office when the incident took place.

“We came here when everything was already done. But Franna is an unbelievably good man, the workers and clients like him a lot,” he said.

He said Franna told him that he had joked with Nicodemus that he would tie him up because he never finished his work.

“It was not a racist action. On Monday he found him not at his work station and he called him and told him, I will now tie you up. He was not even in the chains for 15 minutes when the union arrived. It was really just a joke, it would not have been the whole day, they were laughing,” he said.

According to him Nicodemus demanded N$100 000 in exchange for dropping the issue.





“I told him 'I gave you so many chances but now you want to take this guy for N$100 000, what is this about? Is it because you were tied? You were laughing?'” he said, adding that “he even ran around the truck, that thing allowed him to finish all his work, we were two weeks behind.”

According to Kruger the shop steward likes stirring controversy in the office and never discusses issues with him.

“My workers are really very happy. Most people would like to work here,” he said.

Nicodemus said it was not a joke and he felt “very bad”. He said he had been mistreated for a while now.

“He told me already on Friday that he would chain me and that time I thought it was a joke. On Monday he called me and told me that he will now chain me and I said no, and he pulled me and said I must stand so he can chain me. We went back and forth for three times but I realise I will not win so I just gave in an allowed him to chain me. I felt bad, very bad,” he said.

Nicodemus also accused the foreman of locking him in until 21:00 one evening to finish his work.

According to shop steward James Matamu, Nicodemus never laughed when he was chained and in fact was just quiet and subdued.

“He was chained to the car on which he was working and this never happened in this workshop. Nic is a good man but Franna is difficult person to work with,” he said.

The police confirmed the incident but cannot pursue the case because Nicodemus is not willing to open a case.

The director for the Legal Assistance Centre, Toni Hancox, said it was not a private matter but a criminal matter, which gives the police the power to investigate it without a charge being laid.

“In any event, there is evidence that this occurred. You might also want to report this to the ombudsman. If they state they need a complainant then I would raise the very good point that the man probably does not want to lose his job,” she said.

Labour Commissioner Bro-Matthew Shinguadja also said it was a criminal case but he agreed that the police could do nothing if the complainant did not want to open a case.

JEMIMA BEUKES