Food giant Nestle, South Africa has been called out by a woman who was fired for reporting a sex offender.
The woman, Thobile Shiba – Dlamini took to micro-blogging site Twitter to tell her side of the story. She was frustrated by the company management and eventually fired.
According to Ms Dlamini, coming forward took months and when she finally gathered the courage and support from loved ones, the case was not treated with the seriousness it deserved.
“I was sexually harassed by a colleague at @nestle South Africa where I worked. It went on for months until one day I put on my big girl pants and said enough is enough. I reported it using the internal channels at work. ALL THE DIRECTORS heard about my story…” she said.
I was sexually harassed by a colleague at @nestle South Africa where I worked. It went on for months until one day I put on my big girl pants and said
enough is enough. I reported it using the internal channels at work. ALL
THE DIRECTORS heard about my story…
— Phumelele T. Dlamini (@phumelele_t) September 17, 2019
Her abuser was then the Group Employee Relations Manager who proved untouchable. Her spouse had advised her against going up against a corporate giant like Nestle but she was determined to tell her story and justice served.
“Babes u WILL NOT WIN against these guys, they are too big, we are little fish, don’t pick a fight with them, it won’t end well for you, but I will support u, no matter what you decide to do,” her husband told her then.
Ms Dlamini also expressed her disgust with a company whose largest target market is mothers and children and one that “claims to understand our social dynamics and inequalities of the country.”
Upon coming forward, she was advised to trust the internal process and not dare speak about the matter with outsiders.
But the process turned her into the office clown.
“I turned to be the laughing stock in the department, my colleagues would whisper about me and make unpleasant jokes as I walked pass them in the corridors. I reported all this and the Company did nothing about it. Instead they did what they called a fact finding exercise,” she said.
The process did not produce the company’s “desired results”, she said, so Nestle management brought on board a law firm, Bowlman Gilfillan to conduct another fact finding exercise.
When this was completed she was advised again by her seniors to report the matter externally, through the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) – a dispute resolution body established in terms of the Labour Relations Act, 66 of 1995 (LRA).
Things quickly went down hill after her then boss received a notice from CCMA. She was suspended with immediate effect and escorted out of the building by the head of security.
She was later fired for “spreading malicious lies about my fellow colleague.”
Unemployed, broke, broken and depressed, Ms Dlamini’s case dragged on for over a year which led to her then lawyers being compromised.
“I hired new lawyers, Nestle also got to them as well. The long and short of it is, I lost the case, my lawyers through the case right at the end of the proceedings. Nestle SA won on technicality. I was left ….Jobless, broke, Broken, depressed and feeling worthless,” she added.
Later she tried appealing her case via the labour court, but was “totally exhausted, depressed, broke, broken and feeling totally worthless.”
She has been trying to secure employment elsewhere but that too has proven difficult because Nestle “gave me bad references.”
Her story has attracted a lot of backlash from twitter users with some threatening to boycott Nestle products until justice is served.
Others want the abuser named and shamed.
Here are some of the comments:
Fire this guy or else, We'll have a hashtag going. To us as customers, @Nestle is Nestle no matter the location!
FIRE THIS GUY
— Njamak Consulting (@NjamakC) September 18, 2019
This matter doesn't need the courts sis. We can sort this out promptly. We can do it the African way. 1.Kumele ahlawule for violating another man's wife
2. Send his details and he'll regret the day he was born
We need to stop these bastards from their behaviours
— Hermam Poshi Dube (@HermamDube) September 18, 2019
Nestle must fall, it doesn't matter how many people they employ or products they sell. You can't kill our women for your reputation. Nestle must be ashamed of itself
— Walter Raman (@Waltert240673) September 18, 2019
— mpho (@mphobmt) September 17, 2019