CoW refuses to pay top cops extra N$6.5m

By Eliaser Ndeyanale

THE City of Windhoek has slapped 14 City Police superintendents with a court summons following a drawn-out dispute over N$6.55 million that the officers say is owed to them by the municipality.

According to sources privy to the matter, about two years ago the superintendents (whose names are known to this publication) summoned the City of Windhoek to the Labour Court after it apparently failed to honour a promise to pay money owed to them since July 2017.

Confidente understands that at the time, City of Windhoek CEO Robert Kahimise had promised the top cops their salaries would be brought on par with that of their colleague, Abraham Vatileni, who had allegedly been secretly graded above his colleagues.

“Now [the City of Windhoek] took us to court to stop the arbitration from the Labour Court from being enforced. We sought a legal opinion, wherefore we paid around N$200,000 from our pockets.

“However, this week we decided not to oppose the application because we know that the whole thing is a [form of] victimisation by the CEO because of the fight between him and [City Police chief Abraham] Kanime because we are perceived to be Kanime’s allies,” the source said.

They also indicated that Kahimise told them in a face-to- face meeting that he would write to council to ensure that they get their money, but after Kanime’s suspension the promise was not honoured.

“We wrote a letter to the CEO inquiring as to why Vatileni is on top of us when he is just a superintendent like us. The CEO came to us and had a meeting with us around 27 July that year. He told us that there was an inconsistence and he would correct it.

“He told us to write an appeal and attach a motivational letter from Kanime. We did that and sent it to him (Kahimise). Then he wrote to manager for human capital George Mayumbelo to refer our item to council for approval.

“Then from there he just kept quiet. We then went back to the Labour Commission to let them know that [the CEO] did not want to comply and he is also not giving us an explanation as to how why Vatileni is earning more than us.

“Then we had another meeting with him at his office [where] it was minuted that he would give us our grading before 15 December 2017 and from there the management committee of the City of Windhoek invited senior superintendent Gerry Shikesho to inform them as to why.

“Apparently when he was asked how he put Vatileni at D1 grade and us below him, he couldn’t answer. When the CEO started fighting with Kanime, all the promises he made about 15 December he failed to honour…

“From there we went back to the Labour Commission and we went for conciliation because we could not agree… We hired a lawyer Tjitemisa from Tjitemisa Legal Practitioners and City of Windhoek hired a lawyer by the name Muluti.”

They said a ruling was made in favour of the cops to the effect that the City of Windhoek should pay them as from 1 July 2017, the date on which Vatileni got his first salary increment.

“After a month we filed with court because it is an order of a Labour Court, as per the law. From there we took the arbitration award to the labour inspector but the City of Windhoek took us to court,” the police source said.

According to their claim, each officer that was unfairly discriminated against when one officer’s salary was raised without explanation, is owed N$429 934 for the period from 1 July 2017 to the date of the award, 30 September 2019. The total bill to compensate the 14 officers would amount to around N$6.5 million.

Quizzed about the matter chairperson of the management committee of City of Windhoek council Agatha Iiyambo said she was not aware of City of Windhoek blocking the senior police officers from getting what they are owed.

“The matter of City Police officials’ grading was brought to the management committee, we were trying to resolve it and I think when they went to the Labour Court. We don’t know what happened to it. I was not informed. I am not informed and I am not aware if they won the case at the labour court. It’s news to me. If the CEO promised them and did not do it, that is something that I have to follow up.

“It seems like when something is happening at the City we councillors are not involved. It seems like only the CEO who is taking his decision, which was not supposed to be the case. It is wrong. When delegation of power was given he needs to consult the chairperson of the MC, which in this case has never happened. I will follow it up.”

City Police chief Abraham Kanime said he was aware of the matter and that he submitted his statement to council about the officials’ grading, as requested by the CEO.

Confidente has seen a memorandum of the grading from Kanime to Kahimise, dated 25 July 2017 where Kanime said: “What is happening is total discrimination.”

CEO Kahimise did not respond to a text message, while questions sent to his personal assistant Angelina Nanyemba had not been responded to at the time of going to print. Strategic executive George Mayumbelo declined to comment, saying he is not dealing with the issue. The matter will be before the Windhoek High Court on Friday.