Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has moved to fight for the rights of an employee stripped naked by his superiors at a Petroda service Station in Lilongwe for allegedly stealing company funds.
A video clip of the incident at Petroda Chitukuko Service Station, a franchisee of Petroda (Malawi) Limited, has gone viral on social media and shows the victim—a fuel attendant—being searched by his manager who appears convinced that the employee was in the wrong.
Through a letter dated May 11 2020, HRDC national chairperson Gift Trapence and national coordinator Luke Tembo have written Petroda and described the incident as degrading and inhumane.
The letter also describes the incident as “a form of white-collar mob justice” in which employers take it upon themselves to punish and violate workers’ rights by humiliation.
Reads the letter in part: “In a country of laws, suspects of crimes, small or large, are handed to the police, who themselves must adhere to due processes and human rights standard following thorough investigations under the direction of the judiciary which is the sole authority in Malawi empowered to dispensation penalties.”
The letter also states that there is a culture of impunity and contempt for Malawian or local workers by some foreign business owners who go scot-free after committing such abuses.
HRDC has warned employers who mistreat employees, saying it will mobilise Malawians to boycott services they offer if they do not change.
HRDC has also advised employees to report cases of abuse to the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC), the Ombudsman and labour offices.
In response to HRDC’s letter, Petroda (Malawi) Limited Central Region manager Abubakar Salim Awadh said they summoned the dealer and manager as part of investigations on the matter.
He condemned the incident and said investigations are still in progress.
Meanwhile, Trapence on Wednesday said the two parties are expected to meet on Friday to discuss the issue and find the way forward.
In October 2018, the Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) also warned against abuses by employees following continued cases of workers abuse mostly being perpetrated by foreigners.