Shoprite charges 7 contract workers with theft for accepting tips

Shoprite workers and community members outside Wynberg Magistrate Court. Pic by Mzi Velapi

Chantay Potts said they were handcuffed in front of staff and customers. “We were handcuffed and were made to stand for 4 hours,” said Potts. The 19-year-old mother of one said they are accused of theft because they took tips from customers.

Wynberg, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

The case against seven Shoprite workers was postponed to the 20th of September pending further investigation. The contract workers who are all women appeared in the Wynberg Magistrates’ Court after they were arrested on Friday (11 August) and are alleged to have stole from the retail company.

Speaking to Elitsha, Chantay Potts said they were handcuffed in front of staff and customers. “We were handcuffed and were made to stand for 4 hours”, said Potts. The 19-year-old mother of one said they are accused of theft because they took tips from customers. She did however admit that they are not supposed to take tips directly from customers.

“Customers sometimes want to buy you cooldrink and you cannot decline that,” said Potts who is one of the three workers whose picture with handcuffs on was distributed on social networks. The workers feel that they were humiliated and they want the company to compensate them for what they went through.

All the workers are on contract and they get paid R2,400 a month, which is far below the minimum wage. Another worker seen handcuffed on Facebook, Shameez Powel, a27-year old mother of three, told Elitsha that after they were taken to Grassy Park police station, they were only allowed to call their families after 21h00. Leoni van Wyk, 25 told Elitsha that she was on her period on the day and the police did not allow her to go to the bathroom to “at least clean myself”. Van Wyk has 8 children to look after.

All the workers said they will want to be represented by a state lawyer. Meanshile, Shoprite CEO Whitey Basson earned over R100-million in bonuses last year. This means it would take close to 300 years for the contract workers to earn what Basson was paid in October last year.

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Shoprite had not responded to questions from Elitsha even though they were given a day to respond.

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