Woolworths disputes claim that employee was suspended for wearing 'isiphandla'

2020-02-04 18:42
Woolworths has the largest debt-to-equity ratio of SA's big retailers. (Screengrab).

Woolworths has the largest debt-to-equity ratio of SA's big retailers. (Screengrab).

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South Africa-based multinational retail company Woolworths has disputed claims that an employee at one of its stores was suspended for wearing isiphandla - a traditional animal skin wristband.

"We do not tolerate discrimination of any kind in our stores. Ms Nkopane was not suspended for wearing isiphandla," Woolworths told News24 on Tuesday.

Isiphandla is is a sacred traditional wristband worn following a traditional ceremony until it falls off naturally.

The retail company, however, said that the employee's suspension dealt with an "unrelated disciplinary matter".

"She was suspended for unrelated disciplinary matters. We have been engaging with Ms Nkopane on these issues in order to reach a resolution," Woolworths said.

This comes after IOL reported that Mathapelo Nkopane was suspended and is being investigated by the Woolworths store in Blairgowrie, Johannesburg, for wearing her cultural wristband since March last year, after she performed an ancestral ceremony.

It was further reported that Nkopane, had who worked as an interactive co-ordinator at the store since February last year, allegedly got approval from her line manager to wear the wristband.

An issue arose when a bakery specialist went to the store and suggested that she be moved to another department.

At this stage Nkopane had been wearing the wrist band for 10 months without an issue.

Following this move, Nkopane told The Star that she had been instructed to write a statement explaining why she had to wear isiphandla and if she had permission.

"Following the explanation, I was suspended with immediate effect and told that I’m under investigation until further notice," Nkopane told the publication.

Nkopane declined to comment to News24 on the matter.

Read more on:    woolworths  |  johannesburg
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