Epacha lodge staff not allowed to have relationships

OUTJO: Male and female workers at the Epacha Game Lodge and Spa near the Etosha National Park in the Kunene Region on Wednesday expressed dissatisfaction with the new company policy, which prohibits them from having babies.

The 64 employees of this lodge expressed their grievances in a meeting with the president of the Tourism and Allied Workers’ Union of Namibia (Tawun), Ben Petrus.

Epacha is situated nearly 100 kilometres west of Outjo in the Kunene Region, and accommodates different game species.

According to the employees’ representative Joseph Muronga, the company’s new policy is making them miserable, as it also forbids them to be in sexual relationships with one another as workers.

The policy stipulates that any employee found engaged in any sexual relationship risks his or her employment being terminated.

“Female employees here are completely not allowed to fall pregnant, and if this pregnancy belongs to one of the male employees at the lodge, then both employees are dismissed from work,” explained Muronga.

He added that sexual intercourse for unmarried employees is totally prohibited on the lodge premises, and only married couples with permission from the general manager are allowed to sleep in one room.

Muronga further stated that married couples are not allowed to bring their children along to the lodge, in spite of the fact that each employee has his/her own private accommodation facility situated far-away from the guest houses and reception offices.

The owner of Epacha Game Lodge and Spa, Paul van de Vijver, who at first warmly welcomed the Tawun president and his acting secretary-general Amon Kaulinge onto the premises, later became angry upon hearing Muronga reading the content of the new company policy.

He asked Petrus, Kaulinge and some members of the Namibian Police Force (NamPol) who were present at the meeting to leave his lodge immediately, or face trespassing charges being laid.

A Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) news crew from Otjiwarongo was also present, recording these proceedings.

“I already dismissed the management team which mistreated my workers at this lodge. I now have a new management team, capable to ensure change here in favour of my employees,” said Van de Vijver.

Shortly afterwards, Van de Vijver produced a letter from his lawyer Jaco Boltman of Kopplinger Boltman legal practitioners based in Windhoek, instructing Petrus as well as the NBC crew to vacate his premises.

“You are herewith informed that access to our client’s premises, in future, without prior permission and/or any other lawful right and/or entitlement amounts to trespassing. Our client’s rights in this regard remain reserved,” reads the letter from Boltman.

Petrus and the NBC news crew members then left the lodge.