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Home / Labour ministry vows full-scale Ongos probe…victim’s family angry with employer

Labour ministry vows full-scale Ongos probe…victim’s family angry with employer

2021-12-14  Loide Jason

Labour ministry vows full-scale Ongos probe…victim’s family angry with employer

The labour ministry will ensure the incident in which three workers died last Tuesday at the Ongos Valley housing development outside Windhoek is fully investigated.

This is according to the director of labour services in that ministry, Aune Mudjanima, who was responding to queries posed to the ministry by New Era last week.

Mudjanima explained the outcome of the investigation will inform the action to be taken on the matter, and only then would the ministry be in a position to provide factual information on the accident.

“Although one can not conclude on the cause of the accident until the investigation is concluded, the manhole is a confined space and, therefore, it is considered a high-risk workplace, where hazardous gases can possibly accumulate,” she said.

“The three deceased men were employees of three different companies. The three men succumbed while trying to save one another,” she related to the preliminary investigations provided to her.

The director said labour legislation obligated employers and employees to comply with the law. “In this instance, to ensure that the workplace is safe and has adequate facilities and arrangements for the welfare of the employee, and that employees can take reasonable care to ensure their safety and cooperate with the employer in ensuring that they wear correct personal protective clothing. A team of three occupational safety and health inspectors were dispatched to investigate the accident,” she said.

Family grievances 

Meanwhile, the family of Jona Haiduwa, one of the victims who suffocated while trying to save another employee, said they are disappointed that the employer is not showing any remorse toward the incident.

Family representative Titus Haiduwa told New Era although they managed to get all the information, they are disappointed in the parties involved, as some never showed remorse.

“The employer of my cousin never came forward to look for the family. We went to look for them, and they refused to see us. They did not talk to us until today (last week Saturday), saying the incident did not happen at their site; hence, they are not responsible, as the deceased decided to be brave on his own to save another person,” said Haiduwa.

Haiduwa said the cousin was employed by the Coastal Hire company for seven years as a loader excavator and was once injured while on duty, and the employer did not do anything.

Haiduwa described the cousin as an organised and calculated person, who believes in helping people. 

He was godly; he is survived by two children and his wife. “He did not drink alcohol, and he was a hardworking man. For him to try to save the co-worker was part of his character. We lost a legend who does not deserve to be treated this way by his employer,” he said.

 The family accused the management of Coastal Hire of valuing their machinery over its employees.  They also questioned the safety of the site. Attempts to obtain comment from Coastal Hire proved futile, as their number went unanswered after several attempts. Last week, Ongos Valley spokesperson Abed Erastus said they sympathise with the bereaved families, and that a full investigation is ongoing to ascertain the cause of the incident. 

“We would like to express our sincere condolences to the family members and the loved ones,” he added.

Erastus described the incident as unfortunate.

“This is a very sensitive matter, and it must be treated as such. We cannot dwell much on it, neither give you permission to assess the scene, as it remains a sensitive scene,” he stated.


2021-12-14  Loide Jason

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