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By: Justicia Shipena

What started as a normal duty at grape and date farm about 40km south west of Keetmanshoop, ended with Lukas Ndara losing his finger on Saturday.

The 42-year-old, who is a driver at the farm, said he went in the field to plough with his colleagues before lunch.

“After lunch, the team leader was informed by the CEO that we should not return in the field unless we load a tank in the tractor’s trailer to pump the sewage from the CEO’s house,” he says.

Ndara said it was in the process of loading the tank into the trailer that he received the shock of his life.

“That was the moment I felt my hand was out. I did not feel any pressure. All I saw was blood flowing down my right hand and my index finger was left in the blue glove I had on,” he tells The Villager.

Sobbing at the time, Ndara was rushed to the Keetmanshoop State hospital.

He describes the experience as a nightmare.

“I was not expecting that one day I will have an artificial finger. At that time, I was crying so loud because of my finger. I never dreamed that this will happen one day,” he said.

The traumatic incident has left Ndara with sleepless nights.

“Until now I feel so bad because during the night I can’t sleep. The blood is still flowing a bit. I am booked off for one week but I am still in pain.”

Ndra says he is not sure if his employer will pay for his compensation.

“Ah, this people are cruel. Those who get injured on the job don’t even get paid,” he says.

A father of two, Ndara worked for Al Dahra, a grape and date agricultural company in southern Namibia, from 2017 until 2018 and returned last year.


“I left in 2018 on leave, however could not return due to troubles I had back home. I then returned last year in May as a temporary worker. Last month I got employed as a permanent driver,” he explains.

When approached for comment, Al Dahra refused to comment on the matter and said they will consult their legal team.

“I need time, I cannot just answer all your questions now. I have to go back to my legal department. I will not be able to give you a proper because this is going in the media and I have to make sure of what I will say,” a manager at the company who could only be identified as Hosam said.

Despite such incidents happening at Al Dahra, employees are still unhappy with the working conditions.

The employees said this is not the first time they have complained and have been battling the same conditions for almost 11 years now.

According to the workers who spoke on condition of anonymity for the fear of losing their employment, despite alerting relevant authorities to their plight, they say no one has come to their rescue.

“Here we don’t speaking, don’t speak here. We receive threats when we complain. The HR officer will call us into the office and says ‘If we see you talking or demonstrating you will never come back here again’,” says one of the workers.

Workers also claim that their employer covers up the bad conditions when authorities visit the agricultural site.

“Even if the councillor, union whoever come here screaming and talking and doing all that, the working conditions don’t change. They remain silent,” another worker says.

Fuming, workers say they still experience low payments and sometimes delayed salary.

“Every time they tell us they don’t have money to pay us but there is construction happening, it happened now twice, this month we had delayed salary.”

The workers question the labour office and Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (NAFAU) what’s taking them long to help them after years of outcry.

Speaking to The Villager on Wednesday afternoon, NAFAU deputy general secretary, Absalom Willem said the union is not aware of the incident that transpired on Saturday.

Willem said they have discussed the low wages in their last meeting with Al Dahra.

“There will be no salary increase for the employees until we have another meeting again next month,” he said.

Willem said the company currently does not have money to increase wages.

Labour researcher at the Economic and Social Justice Trust, Herbert Jauch, said in terms of the labour law the worker is entitled to a compensation.


“In terms of the employee’s compensation act, the law says if you are injured at a work place you are entitled to compensation. if the company refuses the worker should approach the office of the labour commissioner to launch a complaint,” he said.

Jauch said when workers report mistreatment or troublesome conditions at labour offices the ministry of labour should send out a labour inspector.

“However, the ministry is unfortunately, ineffective with complaints in many regions but this is still their job so we must not let them off the hook,” said Jauch.

The Al Dahra complaints are dated to 2019, to date nothing has been solved.

Jauch added that if regional offices fail to respond, workers should report to the head office or choose to go public.

“These ministries must understand they have a set up and they get paid to do their job. They can’t just desert workers by not coming out. If this was reported in 2019, there is absolutely no excuse for them to act,” he said.

Justicia Shipena

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