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Shoprite workers in Cape Town jailed for accepting tips

Seven Shoprite employees appeared at the Wynberg magistrates court in Cape Town on Tuesday morning on charged with theft after they were accused of “stealing” tips given to them by customers.

The employees of the retail giant’s Pelican Park branch – all women, one of whom is pregnant – were released. Their case has been postponed to September 30.

Cashier Chantay Potts, one of the workers who was arrested, told The Daily Vox the women were called to the manager’s office on Monday and shown video footage of tellers in the cash office taking the money.

“Shoprite’s money was balancing. The money we are taking are tips that customers gave us for gratitude and service,” she said.

She said they were not given any warnings and that their manager said he would either arrest them or dismiss them. “He chose to put us in jail and didn’t even allow us to contact our families to say we were going to jail,” she said.

Potts said she was handcuffed for four hours in the canteen before being taken away by police through the store. “They took us from the staff entrance through the shop in handcuffs in front of customers. They had no decency for us and humiliated us,” she said.

Potts earns R20,40 an hour and works an average of between 32 and 35 hours a week. She said she always took her tips despite being told she was not allowed to. She said ordinarily this money would go to Shoprite even if the customer insists on it going to the cashier.

“I am the only one working [in the family] so by Thursday my money is up and if a customer gives me a R50, I am going to take it,” she said.

Crosby Booi, the Western Cape regional secretary for the South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union (Saccawu) said the union condemns the actions taken by store managers to arrest the workers. He said the workers had been suspended pending an internal investigation and an internal disciplinary hearing.

Booi said Saccawu would be liaising with Shoprite’s Human Resources department and would request that the workers’ disciplinary hearings be suspended.

He said they had not seen the company’s policies on accepting tips, however they would be inquiring whether these were communicated to the workers. They would also be engaging with Shoprite about its policies on accepting tips from customers.

Shoprite said in a statement that it was “obliged to take action in order to protect its assets and therefore involved the police to investigate suspicions of theft”.

It said it strictly adhered to rates of pay prescribed for the wholesale and retail sector and that it was satisfied that the correct security procedures were followed, adding, “the law must now take its course.”

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons
7 Comments
  1. Mlangele says

    “She said she always took her tips despite being told she was not allowed to.”

    vs.

    “He said they had not seen the company’s policies on accepting tips.”

    Hmmm…

    1. johnnn says

      Good eye there mate

  2. Tammy says

    I personally dont see the harm in receiving tips from a customer irrespective as to what the cashier’s earn. With today’s costs of living everything is expensive and some extra cash would do, this does not make anyone a thief as money is not being stolen and their end of day cash takings balance.

    1. PG says

      The reason they can’t keep the tips is that it completely drives the wrong behavior for tellers:
      1. They could be giving wrong change
      2. They could tell the customer they are not going to ring up an expensive item in the basket… that the client can just have it, but leave a big tip please.
      3. They are the last checkpoint that the client is doing right by the store… once a tip is paid, they can turn a blind-eye to many risks for the store.

      Imagine if traffic officers could accept tips?

  3. Albertus says

    I have never left anyone at a big store a tip. The smaller stores if the service was good, I’ll buy them a coffee or a small gift. Wonder if these “tips” maybe came from incorrect change?

  4. Org Potgieter says

    Georg says
    I always tip the petrol attendants. Can they also land in trouble. Sounds quite silly, not?

  5. Shaheed Mahomed says

    The case has been postponed to Sept 20th, not the 30th. For your information. management has been allowing tips; even the controller takes tips. Now and again when the manager feels like it, he says no tips are allowed- then he confiscates them. This money belongs to the cashier but Shoprite steals it from the worker. This is where the bonus of the CEO comes from. Shoprite bosses are frauds.

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