By Duncan Mlanjira
A staff member at Rab Processors, Vincent Chiphwanya, was found dead in the early hours of Wednesday morning having committed suicide through hanging and immediately the news went viral on social media, accusing the company of harsh treatment to its staff.
But Rab Processors management, while being first at pains not to divulge more information in respect of the soul of deceased, said it is unfortunate that the issue is being brought out of proportion by people on social media.
The reports say management was refusing to provide a coffin for the deceased but General Manager for Human Resource Roy Chirwa said the company is meeting all funeral costs.
Social media reported that the deceased, while on night shift, felt very hungry and helped himself to a sachet of powdered milk — which the company manufactures — to make himself a cup of tea.
In the process, the shift supervisor — an Indian — saw him and took him to the guard house where he was told to go home but this was around 2am.
The reports allege that the deceased then went deep inside the warehouse and was discovered dead, hanging from a rope at dawn.
It is said that the company does not provide food for the staff despite working long hours at night, thus Chiphwanya decided to help himself to the milk to make himself a cup of tea to restore strength in his body.
But the General Manager said all this is far from the truth, saying the shift supervisor caught the deceased with a packaged box of the said sachet of milk hidden in cloths and was brought to the guard house for explanation and to write a report.
“Normally, as per company policy, when one has committed such an offence, he or she is asked to write a report at the guard house and when it is during day shift the staff member is asked to go back home and wait to be summoned for disciplinary hearing,” Chirwa explained.
“He completed his report but since it was still too dark, he was meant to remain in the guardhouse until it was safe to go home.”
Chirwa explains that Chiphwanya then asked the guards that since he was still in factory gear, he be allowed to go and change in the warehouse and was allowed to do so but never returned until they found him dead from hanging himself.
The General Manager manager said it is not true that they do not provide food to their staff, saying they have a fully fledged kitchen that provides lunch for day shift staff and dinner for the night shift at 8pm.
“If he had wanted to help himself to milk for a cup of tea, he was free to do so from the production line through teaspoonfuls but he was caught with a packaged box.
“Now, the whole case went out of control when the irate staff, most of them on temporary basis, wanted to avenge themselves on the night shift supervisor, wanting to kill him but the security hid him deep inside the warehouse and called the police.
“By the time the police arrived the perpetrators, who had been contaminated by other people who were not our staff members, had already started burning tyres around the premises.
“The police were forced to fire teargas to disperse the crowd and took control of the situation. The report that Chiphwanya wrote was given to the police, who retrieved the body for the mortuary.
“We take this opportunity to thank the police and relevant law enforcement authorities for speedily arriving at the scene and assisting restore law and order,” Chirwa said.