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Shoprite in Contempt of Court

Summary

THE retail giant Shoprite Namibia and its Namibia-based directors were in contempt of court when they disobeyed an order of the Labour Court during a strike in January, a judge ruled yesterday.The company and three Namibia-based directors were aware of…

THE retail giant Shoprite Namibia and its Namibia-based directors were in contempt of court when they disobeyed an order of the Labour Court during a strike in January, a judge ruled yesterday.

The company and three Namibia-based directors were aware of an order made by the Labour Court on 8 January, but chose without any justification to disobey it, acting judge Collins Parker stated in a judgement in which he convicted Shoprite Namibia and the three directors of contempt of court.

Parker declared that the company and the three directors were in contempt of a judgement and order given on 8 January until Shoprite Namibia filed an appeal against the judgement five days later, on 13 January.

Having ruled that the company and the directors had been in contempt of court, Parker postponed the case to this Thursday, when it will likely be decided when the matter would proceed.

The judge indicated that the sentencing of the company and directors over the contempt would take place after evidence or statements in mitigation of sentence have been considered.

In the order issued on 8 January, judge Shafimana Ueitele directed that Shoprite Namibia may not hire so-called seasonal staff or fixed-term employees to do the work of striking employees, and may not let any of its other employees perform the work of employees involved in a strike which started on 23 December.

The strike lasted for about five weeks and ended in the last week of January after the company and the employees agreed on pay increases.

The Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (Nafau), representing the employees who took part in the strike, asked the court to declare that Shoprite Namibia and its Namibia-based directors had been in contempt of court from 8 January, when the Labour Court's order was issued, until the company's appeal was filed on 13 January.

During that time, Nafau claimed, the retailer continued to use seasonal employees and other staff members to do the work of striking employees.

In his judgement, Parker said Nafau had a constitutional right to have a judgement granted in its favour obeyed and implemented.

He said the facts were clear that Shoprite Namibia, through its directors, disobeyed the court's order of 8 January.

Parker also stated: "Doubtless, it is in the interest of the administration of justice and rule of law that court judgements and orders are obeyed."

Shoprite is being represented by lawyers Tuhafeni Muhongo, Kennedy Haraseb and Ruben Philander.

Uno Katjipuka-Sibolile and Nixon Marcus are representing Nafau.

Source: The Namibian