The disciplinary charge which led to the employee’s dismissal
Stuurman Mogotsi (Stuurman) was the assistant butchery manager in a butchery with a national footprint. He was dismissed on two specific charges, namely that of:
- gross misconduct related to his failure to disclose to his employer that he took a Covid-19 test and was awaiting the result; and
- gross negligence in that he, upon receiving a positive Covid-19 test result:
- failed to self-isolate; and
- continued working on 3 consecutive days, thus putting the lives of his colleagues at risk; and
- failed to follow the health and safety protocols which applied in the workplace, including adhering to social distancing.
Stuurman travelled daily with a colleague to and from work in a private vehicle.
The colleague tested positive for Covid-19.
At the time, Stuurman also felt ill and experienced some symptoms associated with Covid-19.
Stuurman then consulted a traditional healer, who, incidentally, was his wife. He was booked off sick for a few days.
His employer, when eventually learning of his situation, advised him to stay at home for the time being.
Stuurman however returned to work once the period he was booked off sick expired, while knowing that the colleague he travelled with had tested positive for Covid-19.
Stuurman then took a Covid-19 test himself and was informed of the positive result on 09 August 2020.
Stuurman still reported for duty on 07, 09 & 10 August 2020 and personally handed in the positive result of the Covid-19 test he underwent.
His employer had Covid-19 policies, procedures and protocols in place and regularly reminded employees of such directives via internal memoranda, etc.
Stuurman himself was a member of the in-house Corona Virus Committee, which was responsible for putting up awareness posters, informing employees regarding the correct Covid-related behaviour in the workplace, etc.
Video footage showed Stuurman, on 10 August 2020 (the day after learning that he tested positive for Covid-19), hugging a colleague with comorbidity, also walking around the workplace without wearing a mask.
This resulted in the employer having been obliged to send those having had contact with Stuurman home to self-isolate.
The employer then dismissed Stuurman, having found him guilty as charged, during an internal disciplinary enquiry.