A former employee of Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and AIDS (BONELA), Pako Luke, recently learnt the hard way that the High Court deals with issues of law not fairness when he lost his case of unfair dismissal against the organization.
Luke, 23 who was earning a total package of P7000 salary and gratuity was suing BONELA for unfair dismissal after his contract was terminated after he allegedly stole the organisation’s cellphone worth less than P200, in 2010.
BONELA Executive Director, Uyapo Ndadi said in an interview this week that although Luke was not unfairly dismissed, his case would have had a better hearing at the Industrial court as opposed to the High court.
“The high court deals with the law and not issues of equity or fairness. First, the approach used to take the dispute to the High Court was wrong and incompetent because damages cannot be claimed by way of Notice of Motion but rather by action proceedings. Action proceedings allow for oral evidence and motion proceedings do not,” stated Ndadi following the victory.” Ndadi stated in an interview this week.
BONELA contended that since Luke was alleging unfairness he should have gone to the Industrial Court, which is a court of both equity and the law.
Luke who alleged that his employment was terminated without a hearing and justification and therefore procedurally unfair took the matter to the high court and claimed all salary arrears and benefits in terms of his two year contract.
BONELA opposed the claim, arguing that Luke was given a hearing where he admitted stealing the organization’s cell phone and he lost the case with costs.
“He answered a call from our messanger, two days after the phone went missing and pleaded with him not to tell management, but he did. At the time, the messanger was on his way to Mascom to report the stolen phone,” explained Ndadi outside the court.
However, Luke argued that the hearing offered by BONELA was not proper because only the Chairperson was at the hearing, but BONELA’s position was that it was immaterial to call witnesses because Luke pleaded guilty.
Justice Abednigo Tafa agreed with BONELA’s argument and found that Luke ought to have proceeded by way of summons and dismissed Luke’s application.