Namibia: Cross-Border Truck Drivers Fired for Breaking Quarantine

Two cross-border truck drivers employed by FP du Toit Transport lost their jobs allegedly for breaking quarantine at Walvis Bay on Wednesday.

The company charged the two with gross negligence and breach of security and safety rules.

". . . you ignored direct instructions from the company and the Namibian authorities not to leave the depot. Furthermore, your gross negligent act/omission potentially harmed, not only the company business and image with the relevant ministries of health, transport and Namibian police, but also the health and lives of co-workers and co-citizens," reads the notice of disciplinary hearing dated 14 May.

They two drivers went jogging on 12 May around the industrial area when they recalled to the depot.

"We went jogging and while there we received a call health officers were at the depot looking for us.

"We ran back. The health inspectors asked if we had gone home to our families. We said no. They went to our homes and interviewed our relatives who also confirmed that they had not seen us since our return," explained Japhet Ndjuluwa who returned from Zambia on 10 May.

His colleague Andreas Hamukwaya returned from South Africa on 11 May, the day the company notified them of a 50% salary cut for May, and advised them to take the letters to their banks to apply for loans.

The two assumed that since they were allowed to go to the bank, they could go jogging around the industrial area.

The drivers claim the company did not give them any training or information about Covid-19.

The only awareness they claim to have received was a WhatsApp message sent on 8 May:

" . . . From today STRICT law enforcement by Nampol. Minimize shopping and contact with others during refuelling. Returning drivers to stay in depot/not allowed to go home. For more information contact your line manager."

According to Hamukwaya: "They came to explain these regulations on 14 May. Our argument is that if they gave us the letter to take to the banks we could mingle with the public. They only told us to minimise our shopping and not to go home and avoid close contact with outside people, that's all."

The company CEO Stephan Terblanche confirmed the case: "The process is ongoing, so I can't respond now. We wait for the chairperson to come back with a decision. We appointed an independent chairperson for that because it's a very important case, so we are still waiting for the verdict."

The two drivers are still on-site as their quarantine ends on 27 and 28 May respectively.

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