By: Hertha Ekandjo
51-year-old former farm worker Lena Swart has accused her ex-employer Delane Meyer of injecting her with sheep medicine and, after that, dismissing her without payment after 13 years of service at Farm Riza in the Aranos District.
“In 2007, while working, I fell from a ladder and hurt myself badly. My boss Meyer told me she would get me medication from Dr Charles Grevelink in Aranos. When she came back, she injected me with an unknown injection, so later I became numb,” she narrates.
Swartz says that she worked on Farm Riza from 2007 to 2019.
According to Swartz, she later on asked doctor Grevelink what medicine he gave her boss to inject her. He allegedly told her that Meyer (her boss) only asked him for sheep medicine for a lamb that was sick, which he provided.
“She injected me with animal medicine and threatened to get me killed, burn me to ashes, and when people come looking for me, she will tell them that a lion ate me up since I like running to the police,” said Swartz.
Moreover, she noted that whenever she questioned Meyer about why she injected her, Meyer allegedly went on to tell Swartz’s husband that she cheated on him.
“My husband was always turned against me. He left the whole injection issue and started abusing me day and night. When I asked him “why he was doing that”, he would say the boss lady told him that I cheated on him. All those years, I lived on the farm under threats from her and beatings from my husband,” Swartz noted.
An unfair dismissal case was opened in the labour court, and in 2020, the arbitrator awarded Swartz future loss of income for a period of ten years.
However, in 2021, Meyer appealed the award, which judge Herman Oosthuizen upheld, and the case was subsequently struck from the roll.
In his ruling, Oosthuizen said the arbitrator erred in his application of the common law test “in finding that the respondent’s (Swartz) conditions of employment were intolerable, that the intolerability was caused by the appellant (Meyer), and that the appellant did not fairly deal with the respondent (insofar as the arbitrator even considered fairness as part of the requirements to sustain a claim for constructive dismissal) and that, according to the arbitrator and as part of his reasoning, the respondent resigned involuntarily.”
Swartz added that after 13 years of working for Meyer, she was kicked off the farm without any payment.
“When we got to the farm, Meyer threw my case papers to my face saying that ‘you thought you would win against me?’. She then threw me off the farm and told my husband not to be in contact with me or else she will throw him off the farm too,” cried Swartz.
When she approached the social security offices for her social security funds, she was allegedly told that her ex-boss (Meyer) blocked her funds and that there was nothing left for her.
When approached for comment, Swartz’s ex-boss, Meyer, told The Villager that the case was long dealt with by the court in 2020 and that it was all done and had no longer relevance to it.
“Swartz is just looking for much more trouble than what she already is in,” said Meyer.
Meanwhile, The Mariental labour commission inspector Dionysius Louw says he was very aware of such a case and represented Swarts in the labour court. However, he could not comment any further.
“Yes, I remember Mrs Swarts, but I can not say much, only if we follow the right procedures than I will answer, write us an email fist,” he said.
The labour ministry’s chief public relations officer Maria Hedimbi says that no employee deserves to undergo such harsh treatment, regardless of who their boss is or how much money they have.
“Since she already has a case at our office in Mariental, she can give me her case number so that I can follow up with the police,” she said.
“All employees should be treated with dignity and respect as they deserve. Generally, that is unacceptable behaviour,” Hedimbi emphasised.