Observer on Saturday - - News - Sto­ries by Sisho Ma­gag­ula

To­tal Swazi­land (Pty) Ltd has come out to state cat­e­gor­i­cally that one of its em­ploy­ees who wants com­pen­sa­tion af­ter be­ing hooked by com­puter cables and fall­ing from a chair, was not in­jured on duty.

Nom­phumelelo Mkhatshwa, an As­sis­tant Ad­min­is­tra­tor, has taken her em­ployer to the In­dus­trial Court, seek­ing an or­der di­rect­ing the com­pany to ef­fect pay­ment of her out­stand­ing salaries from Oc­to­ber 2018 to date, pend­ing set­tle­ment of the tem­po­ral dis­abil­ity com­pen­sa­tion. She also wants the court to direct To­tal Swazi­land to pay her an­nual bonus. Fur­ther, Mkhatshwa seeks an or­der di­rect­ing the fuel distri­bu­tion com­pany to re­fund her the amount of E84 091.82 paid as med­i­cal ex­penses through Swaz­iMed.

In­her­foundin­gaffi­davit,Mkhatshwa states that she was in­jured while at work on May 8, 2018 af­ter she got hooked by com­puter cables, fell and in­jured her head, neck and left arm.

“I was then taken to Manzini Clinic where I was at­tended to by DR P.D Maseko, a spe­cial­ist Neu­ro­sur­geon. I was then di­ag­nosed with cer­vi­cal disc dis­or­ders.

On June 7, 2018, Dr Maseko is­sued a med­i­cal cer­tifi­cate stat­ing that I must be out of work and placed me un­der tem­po­ral dis­abil­ity for six months. I duly served this cer­tifi­cate through to first re­spon­dent (To­tal). I must de­clare at this junc­ture that on De­cem­ber 4, 2018, Dr Maseko de­clared me un­fit for work,” she said.

She sub­mit­ted that from the date of the in­jury, she has not been at work and has been in and out of hos­pi­tal treat­ing her in­jury.

She said dur­ing this pe­riod, her em­ployer was pay­ing her salary un­til it was stopped in Oc­to­ber 2018 when shedis­cov­eredthatherE12135cheque had not been de­posited into her bank ac­count. In­stead, only 979.29 was de­posited into her ac­count. She raised thi­sis­sue­with­the­com­pany’sManag­ing Di­rec­tor On­ward Tubela, who in turn made en­quiries about the is­sue.

“On Novem­ber 6, 2018, I re­ceived ane­mail­fromtheHR­man­ager­in­form­ing that the rea­sons my salary was stopped was be­cause I had ex­ceeded mysick­leave­dayswhich­was45­days. On Novem­ber 11, I wrote to the first re­spon­dent and stated that I was not on a nor­mal sick leave rather my be­ing away was be­cause of the in­jury on duty.

Again in Novem­ber my salary was not paid, I wrote an email and copied same to var­i­ous man­agers of the first re­spon­dent, in­clud­ing the MD com­plain­ing about the non- pay­ment of my salary for the months of Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber 2018. I did not get any re­sponse from the first re­spon­dent,” she sub­mit­ted.

She said in De­cem­ber, she again did not get her full salary but only re­ceived a bank in-con­tact mes­sage in­di­cat­ing that an amount of E7 396 had been wired into her ac­count from To­tal. She said her rep­re­sen­ta­tives wrote to the com­pany de­mand­ing her out­stand­ing salary, among other things, in­clud­ing the non-pay­ment of her med­i­cal bill.


“May I also state that the first re­spon­dent had not been pay­ing my hos­pi­tal bills at the Manzini Clinic de­spite mak­ing an un­der­tak­ing to do so. This led to a sit­u­a­tion that prompted the hos­pi­tal not to at­tend to me in re­spect of my in­jury.

The hos­pi­tal in­formed me that the first re­spon­dent is ne­glect­ing and/or re­fus­ing to pay the out­stand­ing bill de­spite de­mand. I then tried to en­gage man­agers of the first re­spon­dent but I could not get any as­sis­tance. I even went­tothe­of­fice­soft­hesec­on­drespon­dent(labour­com­mis­sioner)in­Manzini to get as­sis­tance. At the sec­ond re­spon­dent’s of­fices in Manzini, they re­ferred my mat­ter to Mba­bane where I was told one Sikhum­buzo, whose full par­tic­u­lars are un­known to me, was han­dling my com­plaint,” she said.

Mkhatshwa sub­mit­ted that af­ter nu­mer­ous fol­low-ups, she gath­ered that they were mak­ing ef­forts to make To­tal Swazi­land pay. She said she was in­formed that each time of­fi­cers from the of­fice of the labour com­mis­sioner re­minded To­tal to pay her med­i­cal bill, the com­pany would prom­ise to pay but fail to live up to that prom­ise.

“Con­se­quently, I had to use my Swaz­iMed high ben­e­fit card num­ber 901000135933. In fact, ever since the day I got in­jured at work, I have been us­ing this card since the hos­pi­tal could not ad­mit and/or treat me with­out any pay­ment be­ing made. I must men­tion that had I not used my card, I would have not been able to un­dergo a very cru­cial surgery on Oc­to­ber 17, 2018, which­set­meast­ag­ger­ingE70652.51,” she sub­mit­ted.

To­tal Swazi­land’s man­ag­ing di­rec­tor (MD) has since de­posed to an an­swer­ing af­fi­davit in the mat­ter. In his af­fi­davit, he has stated from the out­set that ac­cord­ing to his com­pany, Mkhatshwa was not in­jured on duty. He then goes on to state why the com­pany holds the view that Mkhatshwa was not in­jured on duty.

“The ap­pli­cant was di­ag­nosed with cer­vi­cal spondy­lo­sis in Jan­uary 2017. This in­jury, I am ad­vised, re­lates to her spine.

The symp­toms which in­clude a headache and neck pains wors­ened in Fe­bru­ary 2017 and the ap­pli­cant was then hos­pi­talised for an op­er­a­tion.

The ap­pli­cant there­after at­tended phys­io­ther­apy ses­sions at SOPREC and phys­io­ther­a­pists rec­om­mended a spe­cial chair for her use when on duty as part of the ther­apy.

The chair was pur­chased by the first re­spon­dent for the ap­pli­cant in com­pli­ance with the rec­om­men­da­tion of the phys­io­ther­a­pist. The ap­pli­cant was symp­tom free dur­ing the first re­spon­dent’s an­nual med­i­cal sur­veil­lance which was con­ducted around March 2018,” he sub­mit­ted.

TheMD­goeson­tostatetha­tonMay 8, 2018, Mkhatshwa, on her own, fell from a chair and an am­bu­lance was called and she was quickly taken to the Manzini Clinic where she was at­tended to by one Dr Maseko.

“At the hos­pi­tal, no in­juries were iden­ti­fied ei­ther on the head, neck or any part of the ap­pli­cant’s body as per the med­i­cal records in our pos­ses­sion,” he said.

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