Skimpy uniform sees Woolies cashier quit

Kathryn Kimberley

A NEWLYWED Port Elizabeth Woolworths store cashier has quit her job after she was allegedly forced to swap her traditional outfit for skintight jeans and a skimpy top.

Now her irate husband, Eric Mbinda, has blasted the upmarket food and clothing store for disrespecting their culture.

Mbinda’s wife, Nomvula Jende, had pitched up at work in her traditional “makoti” outfit as part of her initiation as a new Xhosa bride.

For two weeks after the marriage ceremony, some Xhosa women only wear traditional dresses and skirts. Most of their body is covered up.

On Monday morning, a week after her wedding, Jende returned to her job at the Woolworths store in Access Park, Walmer.

She had worked at the store as a till operator for six months.

Jende had explained to management that she needed to wear the bridal outfit, and not the Woolworths uniform, for the remainder of the week. But the store manager expressed his dissatisfaction with her outfit and allegedly demanded that she change into a pair of jeans and a shirt from the storeroom.

Mbinda said the clothing was far too tight. “We were both humiliated. She must look like a Xhosa wife, not a girl,” he said.

The Woolworths press office said: “We are committed to building a diverse workforce. We respect our employees and do our best to accommodate their ideas and beliefs.

“We were not aware that Mrs Jende was unhappy to wear the uniform and are investigating this matter further.”

But the Bluewater Bay resident said even his wife’s pleas to phone him to ask that he organise a black full-length skirt and shirt fell on deaf ears.

“Instead, she spent the day looking ridiculous. When she came home [on Monday], I knew something was wrong – but I had to persuade her to speak about it. I was so upset I couldn’t eat or sleep.”

Mbinda said they had then approached the store manager, who allegedly insisted it was against policy for employees to wear traditional outfits. “She [Nomvula] had no choice but to quit. We could not risk being further humiliated,” he said.

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