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Company to appeal guard interdict

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Karibuni employees approached the HOD for Health claiming that they have been employed by the department

PROTEST: Employees of Karibuni Security Services during one of their protest actions.

KARIBUNI Security Services intends to appeal an interdict that was granted against them last week that prohibits their guards from entering any premises used by the Department of Health, other than to seek medical help.

An urgent interim interdict was granted last month after the entrance to Kimberley Hospital Complex was blocked while ambulances were also prevented from entering the facility.

Karibuni Security was replaced with Defensor Security before the end of last month when the guards abandoned their posts on October 24, in protest of their contracts being terminated without due notice.

The department stated that the protest presented a security risk to the department’s personnel, its property and members of the public.

Karibuni employees approached the HOD for Health, Steven Jonkers on October 20, claiming that they have been employed by the department.

Jonkers was not in the office at the time and was also not willing to meet with them. He advised the guards to seek recourse from their employer, Karibuni Security Services.

The department addressed two letters to Karibuni informing the company that they would not tolerate the unlawful behaviour of their employees and was urged to take immediate steps.

Karibuni responded by complaining that the company was given less than one month’s notice of the termination of the contract and requested an extension until December 31 or payment until that date, to comply with the retrenchment process.

It pointed out that since the employees were providing services to the department for more than three months, they were deemed to be employees of the department.

It suggested that the department engages with the employees through its respective unions or through the relevant bargaining council in order to resolve the dispute.

The company added that the protest action was undertaken by staff under the auspices of their respective unions or when they were off-duty, where Karibuni had no power to intervene.

It maintained that its employees were not obstructing anyone from entering the hospital and that it was rather administrative personnel from the department who had locked the gates.

The company also denied that its employees were using violent tactics or that they had access to teargas where the department alleged that tear gas was dispersed into the administration building to prevent employees from leaving the building on October 23.

Karibuni indicated that the guards were earning less than the minimum wage and claimed that the security contract with the department was still valid until the end of the year.

Karibuni acting chief director of corporate services, a Mr Mogorosi, also denied that any guard had vacated their posts.

The company argued that it did not infringe upon the department’s rights, neither did it act unlawfully, nor did it have an obligation to control the off duty personnel.

It further denied that the department suffered any prejudice and added that it had been prohibited, by the department, from collecting its equipment, which has left it susceptible to theft and risk.

The department advised that it would hand over Karibuni’s equipment at a central point, from a list provided by the company of the items that needed to be collected.

Acting Northern Cape Judge Janine Snyders ruled that the court did not have the jurisdiction to determine if the employees could be considered to be employed by the department by virtue of the fact that they had been rendering services there for more than three months.

“Any dispute . . . may be referred to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration or a relevant bargaining council with jurisdiction for conciliation and, if not resolved, for arbitration,”

She pointed out that Karibuni had a contractual responsibility to control its employees.

“Employees who gathered at Kimberley Hospital Complex were enticing employees who were on duty to leave their posts.”

She agreed that the off-duty employees would not have agreed to leave the premises, upon instruction of the executive member of Karibuni Security Services, Motsamai Rantho, had they not acted in the course and scope of their employment.

Advocate Gilliland, from Haarhoffs Incorporated, represented the MEC for the Department of Health while senior Advocate Willem Coetzee appeared on behalf of Karibuni, upon instruction from Adriaan B Horwitz and Associates.