May 5, 2014, 9:48 AM
Kumba Njie, Executive Chef of Ocean Bay Hotel, was on Monday 12 September 2011 cross-examined by the plaintiff, Mama Cham Deen, before the Industrial Tribunal for wrongful dismissal of her services.
The plaintiff filed a suit against the defendant (Ocean Bay Hotel), claiming the sum of D250, 000 as damages for breach of contract, costs and as well as interest of 25% to be awarded to her.
Under cross-examination, the defendant’s witness, Kumba Njie, told the court that she is a manager and also a chef at the Ocean Bay Hotel.
She said the hotel has security officers, including men and female, adding that their job was to search staff, when going out and to look after the hotel’s property.
She adduced that on the particular day she went to the plaintiff’s locker, she was in the kitchen, and the plaintiff later left the kitchen for her locker.
When asked how she knew that the plaintiff left the kitchen to her locker, the witness said she was informed by her boss, one Ali.
She said that the plaintiff’s locker was unlocked, adding that most of the lockers are without a key.
When challenged by the plaintiff, who asked whether if a locker is without a key, she will steal something and put it there, the witness replied in the affirmative.
She insisted that she was the only female working there at that time, and that the locker from where she took the alleged items stolen, was from the female’s locker.
When asked about the possibility of anybody having access to the lockers, the witness responded: “Men don’t go there, and it has no security door.”
When the plaintiff put it to her that if anything was missing, she should have known before, because she was the assistant to the pastry chef, the witness’s response was that the pastry chef ordered the items for her and they went missing, adding that the pastry chef was working with two others.
When further asked why she did not ask the co-workers, the witness responded that the items have been missing before, and that she suspected the plaintiff.
She told the court that when she was informed about the missing items, she did not report, but called the plaintiff and warned her, adding that if the management knew about it she would be sacked.
She denied that the plaintiff went to collect a gelatin leaf in her office, and that she was present with her alone.
“Have you ever caught something in my hand during my seven years of services?” the plaintiff asked, and in reply the witness told the court that on the day the plaintiff went on leave, staff found some items in her locker and brought them to her.
When further asked whether the security staff ever caught something with her, she replied in the negative, adding: “You only carry items when the security staff was not at the gate.”
“I always caught her with items, but I left her to go,” said the chef.
Asked about the right to search, the witness said that she had every right to search lockers of staff, if she had any suspicions, even in the absence of the person.
Asked by the plaintiff, who was her witness when she went to take items from her locker, the witness told the court that there was no witness.
She denied that she did tell the plaintiff in the manager’s office that she had a witness.
“I found Marie Jarju, cleaner, in the locker room. I barrowed her empty mayonnaise bucket, but she was not my witness,” she testified.
She adduced that she was informed by the Human Resources Manager that Marie Jarju made a statement, and it was admitted in evidence.
“I was always informed by the staff in the kitchen, whenever the plaintiff took items, but I could not remember their names,” she added.
It was put to the plaintiff that all what she said was not true, because she said she was working there for seven years, and was never caught by any of the security staff stealing.
That is not true, she replied.
Readers would recall that the plaintiff indicated in her claims that her reason for dismissal was because someone accused her of finding some eggs and sugar in her locker in her absence.
The chairman of the tribunal, Ngube, adjourned the case to 20 September 2011.