Saturday, October 24, 2009

Stripping of Kagem miner by guard is criminal – MUZ

Stripping of Kagem miner by guard is criminal – MUZ
By Mutuna Chanda in Kitwe
Sat 24 Oct. 2009, 04:00 CAT

MINEWORKERS Union of Zambia (MUZ) president Rayford Mbulu has said the stripping of a Kagem miner by a security guard is criminal.

In an interview yesterday after he met Kagem management on Thursday, Mbulu said MUZ demanded that the security guard identified as Gurung Yogendra be removed from plant operations because he was a danger to society.

"We met Kagem ... and for us as a union we made certain demands and one demand is that very stern disciplinary action should be taken against that Indian who searched our member mercilessly; an act which is totally contrary to company policy," Mbulu said.

"He actually took the law in his own hands. That is illegal in as far as we are concerned and no law in this country supports such kind of search. We know we've got our own policies, procedures and practices but there is no policy, there is no procedure, there is no practice in the mining industry that supports searching an individual to the extent of stripping them naked because this is inhuman; it's actually criminal, it's an act that requires absolute punishment. And we have even said the best Kagem management can do for now is actually sideline that gentleman ... that man has been taken away from the plant pending investigations and even after investigations we don't need him on the plant."

Mbulu said having such a security guard at the plant could precipitate a reaction from mine workers because they were human beings who had feelings.

He further challenged Kagem management not to only be quick in meting out disciplinary action when it involved unionised workers but slow to act when the tide was against them.

He said MUZ having carried out its investigations also established that Yogendra stripped Davison Mwila a miner at Kagem on suspicion that he may have stolen an emerald on October 8.

Mbulu also challenged the government to be proactive in conducting inspections at work places and dealing with such acts.

"Government must come in to regulate, see exactly the conditions under which the people are working," said Mbulu.

"These people are not only mine workers, these people are citizens of this republic, they deserve the protection of government and I believe we just watch the situation, let it be what it is I am telling you that at the end of the day Zambians will always be subjected to such kind of ill treatment."

Sources at Kagem last week indicated that stripping of workers was not new and that in some instances, security guards of Asian origin even inserted their fingers into private parts of miners they suspected to have stolen emeralds.

Kagem senior manager for corporate affairs Jonas Mwansa defended the stripping of Mwila and said it occurred during the normal course of duty.

He defended Yogendra that what prompted him to ask Mwila to take off his clothes was that he found that he wore two sets of underwear and that this made him become suspicious.

"This security man suspected he had stolen because he was wearing two things (underwear)," Mwansa said. "He was asked to take off one. The dress code is that he is not supposed to wear two things. People are searched as per normal procedure. In this particular instance he was wearing two pants."

Asked if security officials were allowed to insert their fingers in to employees' private part in the course of searching, Mwansa said he did not think that there were any such occurrences.

"It's just that yes, when people want to hide something, they can hide it anywhere," said Mwansa.
"You have to pampanta (search thoroughly) everywhere...all what has been done is according to the procedure that the security department have put in place. As you know emerald is not like copper. For copper there is no need for searching people because copper is heavy but for our business even a small thing is valuable.

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