Neckpiece dispute leads to suspension

CULTURAL ITEM: Lubabalo Jack shows off his traditional neckpiece

A necklace meant to bring good fortune has led to a Port Elizabeth man’s suspension from his engineering job for wearing it.

Lubabalo Jack, 35, of Motherwell, will face a disciplinary hearing today.

He was suspended from Formex Engineering on Wednesday when he refused to remove the traditional necklace, known as Intambo Enkulu.

The Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders has slammed the decision to suspend Jack.

But Jack, a laser technician supervisor, is not worried about his disciplinary hearing.

He claims the company has discriminated against him for exercising his constitutional rights at work.

He said Formex Engineering managing director Hennie Venter took him to task over the necklace and said he looked like a lion.

“My boss [Venter] approached me and inquired what I was wearing,” Jack said. “I told him it was a traditional necklace.

“He ordered me to take it off because [he said] I looked like a lion and it may offend clients. But I refused because it is part of my cultural beliefs.”

Jack now faces a charge of insubordination.

“You were instructed to remove the traditional attire that you wore as it constitutes a safety risk to yourself and others but you refused,” his suspension letter states.

Jack said the necklace did not place him or his colleagues in any danger.

Venter failed to return several calls to his office seeking comment.

The company’s human resources official, Busisiwe Yoyo, also failed to respond to e-mailed questions.

The necklace is made out of a goat’s tail. It is meant to bring good fortune and fight off evil spirits.

Numsa shop steward Lizzy Fundama said: “They are undermining our culture. There is a good reason why he [Jack] wore it.”

Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders chairman Ngangomhlaba Matanzima said: “Nobody has a right to infringe on another person’s culture.”

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