Sick Spur employee 'forced' to report for duty collapses during shift, and dies in hospital

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A Spur employee has died.
A Spur employee has died.
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  • An ill employee of Las Vegas Spur in East London collapsed mid-shift and died in hospital.
  • She had allegedly been forced to go to work, despite calling in sick. 
  • The EFF stormed the restaurant on Tuesday, and shut it down. 

A gravely ill employee of Las Vegas Spur, in East London's Hemingways Mall, collapsed mid-shift and died in hospital.

She was allegedly forced, by her manager, to come to work, despite calling in sick. It is alleged the manager doubted that she was sick.

Mother of two, Funiwe Nkebe, 35, died at Frere Hospital on Saturday, 1 May. The restaurant has denied claims that Nkebe was coerced to report to work while ill. 

Outraged members of the EFF stormed the popular steak house on Tuesday, forcing the restaurant to shut its doors.

The EFF's Buffalo City regional secretary, Xolile Mboni, said the party met with Spur's management after the incident - and four of five demands were agreed to. 

"Spur has agreed to pay for the full costs of Nkebe's funeral, cover school fees for Nkebe's two minor children, aged 7 and 4, until they finish matric, get counselling for all Spur employees, and pay Nkebe's full severance package, annual leave and a month's full salary," Mboni said.

He said they had also demanded that Spur fire the manager in question, who allegedly forced Nkebe to work.

READ | Edgars branch in East London mall removes CCTV camera from girls' fitting rooms after complaint

"They agreed to all other demands, except the firing of the manager. We made it clear that, if the manager is not fired, we will fire her ourselves," said Mboni.  

According to Mboni, a sick Nkebe stumbled into the restaurant, hand-held by another person, to report for duty. 

"She was taken to the locker room to change into her uniform, as her shift had begun. Her colleagues saw that she was unfit to work and rushed to inform the manager. The manager was asked to call an ambulance service provider to rush her to hospital, but she refused, and asked who was going to pay for it."

Died

Mboni said, after an argument, an ambulance eventually arrived and Nkebe was taken to a public hospital.

She later died in hospital.

"It's painful what happened," said Mboni.   

He said, when interviewed by the EFF, the staff of the restaurant were in tears as they described the ill-treatment and intimidation at the hands of their manager. Mboni claimed:

Ms Nkebe knew what happens to people who don't agree with the manager. She was scared to lose her job.

Mboni said the EFF is now contemplating whether to take legal action against Spur.

Nkebe's cousin and family spokesperson, Siyanda Mbuwana, 35, said the children are crying every day, asking for their mother. Mbuwana said: 

It's difficult; every night, the kids ask when their mother is returning from work. We don't know what to tell them.

Nkebe was renting a flat at East London's Scenery Park township, where she stayed with her children. 

"We are now thinking of splitting the kids among myself and their grandmother. We have to step in and be guardians," said Mbuwana.  

READ | Mugg & Bean taking steps against branch owner who posted picture of child wearing black face paint

According to Mbuwana, Nkebe was unhappy at her job and often complained about being overworked and underpaid. 

"She was earning R2 500 a month and had been there for more than five years. She called me almost every day, asking me to help her get a job in Johannesburg," said Mbuwana.  

He said Nkebe's short illness started on Thursday, 29 April, and had worsened by Friday. 

Nkebe will be buried in Mdantsane's NU6 on Saturday.

ALSO READ | Teens leave Spur waiter R4 'tip for hungry Africans'

Responding to detailed questions, the owner of Las Vegas Spur, Andy Brewis, said: "The management of Las Vegas Spur Steak Ranches in East London is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of one of our team members, who fell ill on Saturday, 1 May 2021.

"She visited the doctor at the Frere Hospital and was booked off for the day. We deny any allegations that she was coerced to report to work while ill. We have reached out to the family to offer our condolences and assistance during this difficult time."

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