Fruit and vegetable grocery store Food Lover’s Market has today confirmed the incident that took place at its store in Lenasia, south of Johannesburg, adding that the entire senior management has been replaced while internal investigations continue.
According to reports, a black worker was racially attacked by one of his senior co-workers for not wearing a Food Lover’s Market cap while doing his chores.
An argument allegedly ensued which resulted in him being pushed around by the co-worker. The altercation was caught on a cellphone footage which has since gone viral.
According to the company statement issued on Tuesday, a team member who was being restrained and held to the ground had attempted to stab his colleague with a knife. The supervisor, who can be seen in the footage sitting astride the team member, intervened to disarm the team member and prevent him from stabbing his colleague.
Brian Coppin, Food Lover’s Market chief executive, said that the company does not condone any form of violence and that they are shocked that this incident transpired on their premises.
“I have seen the video of the incident at the Food Lover’s Market Lenasia store and I am absolutely shocked and horrified that a team member was violently assaulted in this way. I do not condone this behaviour at all and condemn the use of violence in any instance,” Coppin said.
“It is not in line with my personal beliefs nor with Food Lover’s Market’s company culture or values. It is also certainly not representative of how we treat our colleagues.”
Coppin said that there is an ongoing internal investigation, which will culminate in an internal disciplinary inquiry, running parallel to criminal charges which are being pursued by the police and the National Prosecuting Authority.
“As this is an ongoing investigation, we have chosen not to disclose the details of the case as we need to be fair to all parties concerned and disclosing these details may jeopardise the outcome of these processes,” Coppin said.
“However, we have already dealt very decisively with this matter internally and we have replaced the entire senior management team at that store. We have decided that all disciplinary hearings will be chaired by an independent external party and appropriate and correct disciplinary measures will be actioned where needed.”
Coppin said that Food Lover’s Market was also implementing a wider investigation to gain a deeper understanding of the systemic issues that gave rise to the incident in the store.