Woman ‘fired’ for offering help

Thina Ndungu believes she was fired at Phakama Centre for no valid reason.

A Gugulethu woman, Thina Ndungu, says she was unfairly dismissed from her job at Phakama Community Health Centre after she had a heated argument with her boss a week ago.

The 23-year-old said she had been working at the centre, which looks after children, for two months before the incident.

A visibly angry Ms Ndungu told Vukani she had tried to assist one of the parents who came to the centre to lodge a complaint about a shoe that had been torn apart.

Ms Ndungu said she informed the parent that as the centre they took full responsibility for the damaged shoe.

Little did she know that her promise would land her in hot water.

She claimed she was fired on the spot for intervening and attempting to resolve the matter.

Things got even more heated when she demanded her payment.

Ms Ndungu said when she joined the centre she was put on two months probation without salary and a R1 500 salary after that.

She said she was shocked when she was informed that she would not be paid for two months while the centre received financial support from various donors and parents also pay for services.

However, she said because she was desperately looking a job, she took it and agreed to work for two months without a salary.

But she was fired at the start of the third month.

“I want the centre to pay me for my work and time,” she said. “How do you get fired for trying to attend to a parent’s complaint. I feel that the centre took me for a ride.”

The centre also runs a soup kitchen for the needy in the neighbourhood but Ms Ndungu claimed some of the food was taken by the staff. She said a lot was wrong at the centre and workers were treated unfairly.

“Other ladies that I started working with decided to quit because of the hostile treatment we got at the centre. I feel that the centre took us for granted,” she said.

However, Phakama centre founder, Mmabatho Pillenge, refuted the claims that she fired Ms Ndungu.

Ms Pillenge said Ms Ndungu intervened in a complaint that she was already addressing and she had no right to intervene because the incident occurred in another class which she does not teach.

Ms Pillenge said according to the work agreement, one volunteers for three months at the centre and then gets paid on the forth month.

She said she has not fired Ms Ndungu but she just told her that she needed to go home and calm down after the argument.

She said she expected her to come back to work the following day.

“I did not fire her. I was attending to the complaint and addressing the parent and she came from nowhere and intervened in something that did not concern her. I’m expecting her to come and apologise and continue with her work,” she said.

Ms Pillenge said she was a hard worker and dedicated to her work.