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Court throws out BERA trio matter

GOITSEMODIMO KAELO
Court throws out BERA trio matter PIC. MORERI SEJAKGOMO
The Industrial Court has dismissed an urgent application in which three Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA) accounts staff was challenging their dismissal from work.

Judge Gaedupe Makgato dismissed the request as not urgent, stating that there is available redress in due course for the three.

The trio Tshegofatso Keitumetse, Tshephang Sebogodi and Nthabiseng Nyepetsi had sought an order for their matter to be heard on urgency. They also wanted the court to set aside their entire disciplinary proceedings of the respondent of February 19, which resulted in their dismissal from work.

They also sought a court order declaring that the decision to dismiss the applicants from work is unlawful and invalid.

 This application followed their dismissal from work on February 25, on grounds that they had wilfully discussed information relating to the organisation with a newspaper outlet.

When dismissing the matter, Judge Makgato said since the applicants failed to satisfy the legal threshold prescribed under the Trade Dispute Act, no redress is available to them in due course.

“In a nutshell I am not persuaded that this matter is urgent or deserving of any urgent treatment,” stated Makgato in the judgement.

He also said the applicants had not demonstrated explicitly the grounds for their matter to be heard urgently.

On the other hand, Makgato said the charge for which the three applicants were dismissed was that of Wilful Disclosure of Confidential Information contrary

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to clause 21.9.2.7 of the General Conditions of Service, 2017, and relates to the conduct of the applicants during the time they were suspended employees of the respondent.

The Court also ruled that an employee who is challenging disciplinary proceedings before the courts is not immune from disciplinary action if he/she conducts himself in a manner offensive to his/her employer’s code of conduct.

“In the present case the applicants were on suspension pending disciplinary proceedings against them. Their challenge of those proceedings was also pending before the courts. The applicants’ contention before this court suggests that they could flout the respondent’s Code of Conduct with no consequence. I cannot agree with that line of argument,” he said.

He further stated that an employer has a duty to maintain order and discipline within his/her organisation. Therefore, he said, it is legally competent, in my view, for the employer to call to book all employees, including those on suspension pending disciplinary proceedings, who conduct themselves in breach of the employer’s Code of Conduct.

Recently, BERA was ordered to reinstate one of its fired employees, Chawada Machacha, who is BERA’s director of finance and procurement. Machacha was dismissed alongside the applicants in the above matter in February.



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