- OP orders former workers to sue over stolen terminal benefits
- Mokaila says he too was defrauded
- Former workers say the money is said to be in accounts of “elders”
Two decades and counting, former workers of Hyundai Motor Distributors are still moving from one government office to another in search of answers over terminal benefits due to them following the liquidation of Hyundai Motor Distributors.
Correspondence seen by The Botswana Gazette shows that attempts by the former employees to seek help from the three arms of government failed, with some saying they were cheated of benefits of as much as P20 000 entitled to each of them.
A representative committee made up of five former employees namely Oagile Moipolai, Gagoumakwe Kgopo, Hilda Sello, Clara Khonye and Letso Keboaketswe was apparently informed that the money was paid to the account of an unnamed “elder” whose identity they say they are not ready to divulge.
In 2009, Gordon Mokgwathi, Letlhakeng East MP, asked a parliamentary question about the benefits in question but was told by the then Minister of Labour and Home Affairs Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri that “Although correspondences suggest that payment may have been made to the former staff representative, I have not come across any record that such payment was made to the said employees.”
The Office of the President (OP) in correspondences from 2007 and 2009 advised the former employees to sue those who are withholding their money. In one correspondence dated 08 June 2007, OP wrote: “Our investigations have revealed that the Industrial Court completed your case with your committee and your committee received your payments. You are advised to sue them for your payments.”
But cabinet minister Kitso Mokaila who was at that time a manager together with Moses Bantsi and Herman Ngwenya said he too was defrauded. “Nobody knows what happened, I also did not receive my money,” he said in sentiments shared by Bantsi who once contested elections for the Gaborone South constituency. “We do not know where the money is. I hear that some former employees are still knocking in government offices demanding answers. It is a sad fairy tale,” he said.
One of the employees, Tony Lekula informed this publication that they were once informed by officers at OP that a detailed report was sought from Botswana Development Corporation (BDC)-the parent company of Hyundai and would be shared with them. “The report was a detailed report confirming that payment has been received BDC. We were later told that BDC refused to authorise OP officer permission to divulge the contents of the report. We were further informed that BDC authorities further declined that we be furnished the report. That’s why we believed that the minister’s parliamentary answer was a cover up,” said Lekula who vowed that they will never tire until justice is served.
The matter is further complicated by the fact that the lawyer who represented the former Hyundai employees, Moatlhodi Marumo, is deceased. This has resulted in them failing to locate their file as they say lawyers at his law firm have not been helpful.
The frustrated group has also reported the matter to Law Society of Botswana (LSB) saying there is no way a file can just vanish as claimed. A senior partner at the firm, Kgalalelo Monthe said it was difficult to find the file as they normally dispose old files after a particular period to create space.
“I have heard of the case, we are still trying to find ways of assisting them. The challenge is that we normally dispose old files after a particular period when a case has been closed. The biggest challenge currently is that the matter was done by the late partner and we do not know where to pick the pieces,” he said.
The BDC office declined to answer questions from this publication sent over a month ago. When reminded of the need to respond recently, the office said the matter was old and it was difficult to find information and files.