By Asavela Mbali
Nontsikelelo Audrey Manyifana worked at Checkers in Paarl North in the Western Cape as a baker for four years was laid off from work because she kept getting sick.
“On the 28th of June 2010, I was called to the office, there were four people, and I was the fifth person questioning me about the stock they say I stole. I told them I did not steal anything then they said I must go and open my locker for them, the HR person searched, and she did not find anything. The store manager and two white guys I do not know left me and Miranda who was a HR person, then a security guard and my colleague came and told us to come in the office then she closed the door.
The security told me to take off my clothes, she is going to strip search me, at first, I did not want to but then I thought again I need to clear my name, I took off my clothes then I was left with my bra and panties, the security told me to take off my bra and panties too and I said no. after a while arguing about my bra and panties, I took them off. The security told me to squat I did. I asked the HR lady why are they doing this to me? Is it because I am black? She said yes, you, black people are thieves. While I was squatting the security fingered me saying she is searching for the stock I stole, she said she can feel something inside and she kept fingering me. I stood up angrily, the security told me she is not done I must squat again; I did. She said she can feel something, but she cannot find it reporting to the HR. the four of us are females, I asked the HR do you have the hole to hide all these things you accused me of stealing? “no, I don’t have but you, black people have it, you are all thieves” said Miranda I said I do not have other holes to hide things, I am just like you. The security told me to lay on my back on the table and I did she searched again. My colleague gave me my t-shirt, the security guard changed gloves then she continued to finger me then she said she did not feel anything now, she is satisfied. Miranda told me to put on my clothes and go home, it is time to go home now and come back tomorrow to work. I told her I do not think I will be able to come and work. She said no you must come to work you are such a hard worker. I went to my locker and I took everything then I went home.
On my home I called my sister, we met, and I told her everything. My sister took her to the Dr’s office, and I told the Dr what happened, the Dr gave me a doctor’s sick note saying, “Rape at work”. My child the following day went to Checkers and handed my sick note. The whole month I kept getting sick. Second month I was supposed to go back to work and still I was not ready to face them I then phoned the manager I told him I am not ready to come back to work, he then gave me a month sick leave. I went there to sign for my leave then I came back home. Some guy who was working for a newspaper company wrote about my incident, but I did not get any help” said Nontsikelelo.
When Nontsikelelo got back to work, she kept getting sick, Nontsikelelo claims it was because of the fingering the security did to her, she says the womb was getting outside, she kept going to the Dr’s because she had abdominal pains. Nontsikelelo got fired from work because she kept getting sick all the time. NTU news reporter is in position of termination letter from work. Nontsikelelo claims that she was told at hospital that they must remove her womb because there is nothing they can do now, and she agreed. “I only have one child; I can never have kids again” said Nontsikelelo.
Nontsikelelo says she laid charges on Checkers and she kept going the prosecutor who oversaw her case but did not have any progress on her case. In 2014 Nontsikelelo went to the police station again to enquire about the case and was told that case was dismissed in 2012, “I asked how because I never went for a court case but then again, I opened it again but then I lost the case in 2017” said Nontsikelelo.
“I feel like if I perhaps had a lawyer, I would have won my case, but I did not because I could not afford one” said Nontsikelelo.
Nontsikelelo says she is not happy about how she lost her case; she says needs any kind of help she can get because she was sexually harassed in a workplace, she is still traumatized, she is not the person she used to be. She wants justice.