KNYSNA NEWS - A Knysna supermarket security guard is under investigation after two cashiers opened a police case of crimen injuria. The cashiers claim they were stripped naked and searched after their cash-up money was short on Saturday 19 January. Store management are investigating allegations that the store manager may have ordered the strip search.
Detailing her version of events, Checkers cashier Zethu Teyise said that on Saturday 19 January, a colleague had "lost" R600 earlier in the day and was trying to trace it. She was then surprised to learn later that she, too, was R500 short.
The 21-year-old said her manager, Janine Baartman asked her to wait until Baartman had cashed up the rest of the staff's takings and was sent to drop slips at the store's adjacent liquor outlet.
'She told me to take off my clothes'
"When I got back there was a security guard present. The manager asked what I did with the money, and how much money I had on me. I told her I had R140 and she instructed the security guard to search me in a different room," Teyise related, explaining that there is a room that they are usually searched in, but that the security guard pointed at a different room.
"When I got there, I lifted my arms for her to search me and she told me to take off my clothes – all of them. I was so embarrassed and shocked I took off all my clothes and she went through every single item I had and only found the R140."
Two days later, an emotional Teyise struggled to speak with Knysna-Plett Herald (KPH) – at first refusing to do so because she was embarrassed. "Being stripped naked is embarrassing and traumatising,'' she said. "There are other people who visit the store and (mockingly) enquire where these girls are who were stripped naked. Even some of our colleagues make fun of us."
'I was merely standing up for myself'
Another cashier, Asanda Ngcitha (21), told KPH there were cashiers before them who were also short but no one was ever stripped naked. ''Why expose us to such humiliation? How are we different to all of them?" she asked.
Teyise told KPH the next day that the two of them were approached by a shop steward who is also the union representative. "He approached us and we filled in a grievance letter," said Teyise, who also alleged that she was confronted by the manager on the same day, who told her that she (the manager) might lose her job because she reported it. "But that is not what I was trying to do, I was merely standing up for myself."
"What usually happens at the store when a cashier is short is, they go through a disciplinary hearing or sign a warning. Not this."
Asked for its comment, the store's media team said, "The allegations against the manager involved are seen in a very serious light and the manager has been suspended pending the outcome of an internal disciplinary enquiry. The matter is currently under investigation to establish the facts."
On Friday 25 January, EFF members went to the store demanding to speak with the management and protested in the store. EFF official Mbulelo Magwala said they were told about the incident by the victims.
"We spoke to the manager Elmare Nortje Coetzee and she told us it was the administration manager Janine Baartman who instructed the girls to be stripped naked and that she has been suspended," said Magwala.
He relayed rumours that Coetzee vocalised her intention to clean up the store and hire new people. He warned that any unfair labour practices would be met with resistance from the EFF and that "everything will shut down".
The two women opened a case against the security guard on Tuesday 29 January, which has been confirmed by the police. KPH will report on the outcome of the store's investigation and that of the police as soon as it becomes available.
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