PRETORIA, The South African Minister in the Presidency Responsible for Women, Susan Shabangu, says she is shocked and disgusted at the alleged inhumane acts meted out towards seven female employees by Shoprite, the Cape Town-based company which is Africa’s largest food retailer.

The incident allegedly took place at Shoprite’s Pelican Park branch in Cape Town where seven women, one of them pregnant, were reportedly handcuffed and exhibited for hours.

The Department on Women said the women earned an average of 20 Rand 1.54 US dollars) an hour, and are ranked among the lowest paid workers in the economy.

“Ironically, the charges against them are for receiving and accepting tips from customers who have demonstrated appreciation for their services,” said Shabangu in a statement here Wednesday.

“This form of violence perpetrated upon the beings of the victims is not only unconstitutional, but it also resembles the brand of power and control that reproduces racist, classist and gendered forms of violence. Since the dawn of democracy, our nation is at work to build a non-racist, non-sexist society and thus rejects action that is contrary to these constitutional aspirations.”

The Minister said this form of violence undermined the sacrifices of the women of 1956, who risked their very beings so that women should never have to suffer indignity. “Our role as a society, if we are sincerely interested in transforming our nation, is to identify violence in all its forms, to call it out, and to make proposals for change that are based on the root causes of problems,” Shabangu said.

The incident took place as Women’s Month draws to a close, and at a time when South Africa is working to address the high rates of violence against women.

Shabangu called on the management of Shoprite to drop the charges against the seven women. The women were reportedly charged with theft after accepting tips from customers who knew how low their wages were.

According to media reports, the women say they were given permission by the store’s controller to accept gratuities. However, the controller now refutes this.

“Any form of violence against women, be it physical, emotional and financially, is not acceptable and has no place in our democratic country. On top of that, these women have families. Yet Shoprite continues to exploit them by paying them slave wages of 2,400 Rand a month,” the Minister said.

She called on Shoprite to exercise urgency in expunging the criminal records of those who have been found guilty.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

For security, use of Google's reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

If you agree to these terms, please click here.