Govt discovers 11 undocumented foreigners at Takealot warehouse: 2 managers, 3 workers arrested


South Africa’s largest online retail company, Takealot, is in hot water with the Department of Employment and Labour over health and safety issues and also for the hiring of undocumented foreign nationals.

In a statement yesterday, the department said it had issued three notices for non-compliance with Occupational Health and Safety regulation to Takealot in Gauteng. The department has granted Takealot a period of 60 days from the date of the served notice to get its house in order.

“The Department of Employment and Labour’s Inspection and Enforcement Services (IES) inspectors have discovered that it has not been complying with the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993, at its warehouse in Gauteng, Kempton Park, where parts of the facility pose an immediate danger to its workers on-site,” it said in a statement.

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Takealot’s breach of a number of labour laws at the warehouse was uncovered yesterday during the Department of Employment and Labour’s joint Mega Blitz inspections, which also engagements with the company’s on-site employees.

The department said Takealot was found to be in contravention of the following regulations in terms of the OHS Act: Ergonomics regulations, pressure equipment regulations, general administration regulations, hazardous chemical agent regulations, driven machinery regulations and general safety regulations.

The online retailer’s management was also served with a notice direction to improve the company’s clinic facilities, create demarcated drive ways inside the warehouse and improve the company’s warehouse risk assessment specification.

Takealot was also issued with three prohibition notices that prevented them from: allowing contractors on-site with step-ladders without non-skid rubber, storing of chemicals in a general storing area or racks in that they are flammable and can have an adverse effect to the health and safety of employees, and deducting monies from employees for provision of protective safety shoes, it said.

The mega blitz inspection was spearheaded by the Department of Employment and Labour’s Inspector-General, Aggy Moiloa, who indicated to the Takealot management that the department was willing to assist them in complying with the labour laws.

“We don’t take pleasure in seeing you being squeamish. We don’t want that because we hardly ever subscribe to the stick approach unless we are pushed to the limits, and if you push us, you are going to see that,” said Moiloa.

The department’s inspectors also found that Takealot was not complying with the Unemployment Insurance Fund Act, Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and compliance orders against the company were issued in those regards.

About 11 undocumented foreign national employees and two employers were arrested at the Takealot warehouse site in Kempton Park, and about three people were arrested in Pretoria yesterday. There were outstanding cases in the Silverton area where the Home Affairs Immigration Agents were still verifying documents.

Takealot has since responded to the matter.

The ecommerce giant said in a statement sent to Business Report, “Takealot is fully committed to complying with all laws and providing a safe working environment for all staff. We are aware of the notices issued by the Department of Employment and Labour in relation to the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993, and Takealot will work to comply with the Department’s requirement for remedial action to be taken within the next 60 days.”

The company went on to state, “However, we are unaware of any contravention or non-compliance related to the Unemployment Insurance Fund Act, Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act as alleged by the Department. Takealot applies stringent procedures with regards to the verification of staff identification and qualifications. We also adhere to the industry standard of conducting background and criminal checks on permanent and semi-permanent hires. Takealot would not knowingly employ anyone who is undocumented or who has provided fake documents.”

Takealot further stated that it is committed to being a responsible corporate citizen and will address any alleged gaps.

– iol

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