'Workers at lodge have to take Aids test'

WORKERS at the Esikhaleni Lodge at Nkonkoni in Jozini, northern Zululand, allege that their employer is forcing them to take HIV-Aids tests.

They accused lodge owner Elin Hagemann of forcing them to get tested "because they work with tourists".

Those that tested positive are allegedly forced into buying a concoction or muti for "curing" Aids from a Zimbabwean national, who is also the supervisor at the lodge.

A worker who refused to be tested has now been suspended on "trumped up" charges.

Sbongokuhle Nkosi, a housekeeper, said she refused to take a blood test because "no one (by law) is forced to".

"When we were forced to go for the test, three employees heeded the call and the rest of us refused."

"After this, I was targeted. On December 23, I refused to work overtime after working a normal eight-hour shift."

"I refused as my name wasn't on the schedule for overtime."

Nkosi says she was subsequently suspended and is due to appear at a disciplinary hearing next week.

Sowetan is in possession of a copy of her suspension letter and the allegations are that she refused to work overtime and "lacked respect toward management".

Workers also allege that a colleague who was forced to go for a test after suffering flu-like symptoms last year succumbed to the disease soon after being forced to take an HIV-Aids test.

Other employees who spoke to Sowetan also confirmed to having been forced to undergo the tests. They declined to divulge further information for fear of victimisation.

Workers at the lodge said they have a right to medical privacy in terms of the Constitution.

"An employer cannot dismiss you because you have HIV nor can they demand that workers be tested," said one worker.

When contacted by Sowetan, Hagemann denied any knowledge of the allegations against her. "I have no idea what you talking about. I'm sorry I can't help you."