‘Too fat’ for prison job, but she stands her ground

2012-07-11 00:00

DEEMED “too fat” to be a prison warder, Thulisile Gamede has asked Correctional Services Minister S’bu Ndebele to help her land her dream job.

The 1,65 metre tall woman from Dundee, who weighs 110 kg, believes her weight was used as an excuse to sideline her.

Gamede applied for the position of correctional officer, which was advertised 11 years ago, for a prison in Estcourt. She was short-listed, invited for an interview and passed.

But the trouble began when she was asked to get a doctor’s note to certify that she was physically fit to undergo training because of her weight. She did so, but was told she had been rejected for “confidential reasons”.

Gamede believes she was rejected because her husband, who had recused himself from the interview panel, is a manager in the area in which she had applied.

She then went to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, where the matter was not resolved, and then to the labour court, which ruled in her favour in 2006.

Correctional Services appealed and an out-of-court settlement was reached in 2010, ordering the department to consider Gamede.

Correctional Services human resources deputy head Teboho Mokoena said Gamede could apply, but this didn’t mean she would automatically get the post.

“The agreement doesn’t say that employment would be automatic. That would be illegal because it would mean she would get a job even if she doesn’t meet the requirements,” said Mokoena.

Gamede said: “Financially, we are not coping … because of the lawyers’ fees. We still owe R35 000. I can’t begin to tell you what this has done to my self-esteem.

“I don’t consider myself excessively fat, but even if I was, is there a bin for fat people?” — City Press.

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