is going to kill you'

Luzuko Pongoma

Luzuko Pongoma

Managers at Bread Bin and Milky Bar in Bosmont, Johannesburg, use abusive language and ill-treat their employees. And they are not ashamed of it.

"Yes, we call them dogs, you f....n dog, you f....n snake," were some of the insults hurled at me.

This was after I went to the shop to confront management about allegations of abuse made by workers.

They also complained about unfair dismissals.

The managers, only known by their first names of Shakir and Essop, told me that they were members of an Afghan gang and that they were going to kill me.

"You think you are clever. We are going to show you. We know where you work," they fumed.

Last week I went undercover and managed to get myself a job at the shop.

I was employed in the juice section for four days.

My mission was to investigate the bad-treatment allegations made by the shop employees.

I arrived on a Tuesday and found manager Riyaad Khota, who initially said there were no jobs.

Seeing my desperation, he called me back as I was leaving the shop to tell me that he would give me a week to prove "your capability".

On the day, I found Khota and his twin brother Rishaad sitting by the door watching employees on a CCTV monitor.

When the managers move towards the employees, the workers stop speaking. Employees do not trust each other and seem to fear their bosses.

I was shocked to see two male employees being released from an outside room with no windows where they make biltong.

For a 10-hour shift I was entitled to a 45-minute break, which I took on the pavement outside.

On Fridays, although I started work at 11am, I was forced to take a break at 12.30pm because management was going to the mosque for Jumah prayers.

Khota said they took over the shop in November last year.

He refuted claims that they insulted their workers and said his partners were angry because I went undercover.

"Some of the workers had problems with working shifts. As for the guys working with biltong, they have the keys for the door," Khota said.

He said they had given the workers employment contracts, which take into account the number of years they have worked at the shop.

Khota said workers pay UIF, tax and belonged to a union.

He said an employee called Lebogang Mabulana, who was unfairly dismissed, won his case at the Commission for Counciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, but chose not to return to work.