A local security company has approached the High Court to compel the agriculture ministry to release payments of N$4.5 million for services rendered to the Kalimbezi Rice Farm in the Zambezi region.
Shilimela Security Services claims the ministry, alongside the Agricultural Business Development Agency, failed to adjust their payments to them after the minimum wage of security guards was increased by the labour ministry in 2017.
In their court documents, the security company claims it was firstly awarded a tender to provide security services for the Kalimbezi Rice Farm in 2010.
The contract was renewed in 2014 for four years with similar conditions, but included the “necessary adjustments”.
As per the agreement, the company would on a monthly basis tender its invoice for payment by the ministry.
The company would also pay its security guards, based on the payment criteria used in the security industry.
In 2014, based on the industry wage criteria, a guard at the entry level would earn N$5.30 per hour while at other levels, they would earn N$6.75 per hour.
In 2015, the amounts were adjusted to N$7.00 per hour.
Between 2016 and 2017, wage negotiations resulted in the adjustment of the salaries of the guards.
The increases were published in the Government Gazette in September 2017.
The new wages stipulated that entry-level guards would earn N$8.75 per hour, effective from 1 January 2017. Other levels would earn a minimum of N$8.75 per hour.
“In order to comply with the minimum wage requirement, the plaintiff (Shilimela) adjusted its hourly rates for every guard since the implementation of the new minimum wage rate on 1 January 2017, and has been paying its guards as per the dictates of the collective agreement,” argued the company.
The company allegedly paid the new rates until 31 December 2021 when the contract came to an end.
According to them, the last time they received payment was on 1 January 2020. Thus, there have been no payments for 23 months of them providing security services.
The matter will be in court on 17 October before judge Herman Oosthuizen for a status hearing.
The ministry and the Agricultural Business Development Agency have indicated their intent to oppose the application.