City staffer hits businessman

2008-03-21 00:00

A city resident’s routine visit to the Msunduzi Municipality to pay for a new electricity connection turned into a nightmare on Wednesday afternoon when he was assaulted by a council employee.

Rakesh Sewnarian said he was still struggling to hear properly in his left ear after receiving a sound slap from the employee, whom he described as a “big-sized fella”.

“He did not stop at the slap, but charged at me and gave me another couple of punches. I picked up a chair to protect myself and he still came after me.

“It was very humiliating as it happened in the light account office and in full view of the public. My wife who was with me was very distraught and was screaming. We are both still very shaken by the incident,” said Sewnarian.

He has since reported the assault to the police, who confirmed that they are investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident. The employee, whose name is known to The Witness, cannot be named as he has not been formally charged.

Sewnarian described the afternoon’s events that ended with him hobbling down the steps of 333 Church Street. “We acquired a salon at the Kharina Road shopping complex in Bombay Heights and have not signed a lease agreement with complex owners as we are not sure at this stage of the prospects of the business.

“On Monday, we went to pay the R1 700 to have the electricity connected. The lady at the counter insisted we produce a lease. When we tried to explain that we did not have a lease and asked if there is another way we could get the lights connected, she said she would call her supervisor.

“He arrived some 10 minutes later and came and stood beside us. He kept on asking ‘where is your lease agreement?’. I said to him ‘don’t treat us like children, tell us if there is anything else we can do’.

“It was when I said ‘how do you expect us to run our business?’ that he lifted his hand and clouted me. He then came after me like a raging bull. The security guards first told us to stop it, they then came and held me down and still he came after me.”

By this time other senior municpal staff entered the enquiries division and the Sewnarians were taken up to see Adrian Ogilvie, the process manager in the treasury division.

Ogilvie told The Witness yesterday that it was regrettable that such an incident occurred and that any untoward behaviour towards a member of the public is viewed in a very serious light by the municipality.

He said steps have already been taken to implement disciplinary measures against the employee in terms of council’s policy and procedures. Ogilvie added that he could not say more at this stage until the disciplinary process is completed.

Sewnarian said he is involved in business and knows that the golden rule is that the customer is king. “No matter what happens you can’t go around slapping people, nothing gives you the right to do that. This is the kind of behaviour that brings the municipality into disrepute,” he said.

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