A WAREHOUSE controller at Carnival Furnishers (Zambia) Limited has dragged two directors of the company to the Lusaka High Court, seeking an order that they should be held liable for the action of the company.
Pravin Chopade claims that on December 23, 2020, Balagurumurtheie Pillay, a director and shareholder of the company, while knowing fully that he (Chopade) was not part of the decision making team, had his passport confiscated by the Ministry of Labour on grounds that he should not leave the country until the employees at the company had been paid their salary arrears.
Chopade, an Indian resident in Zambia, has now sued Carnival Furnishers (Zambia) Limited, Pillay, a South African and Newton Mubonda, a Zambian and a director of the company.
According to Zanis, Lusaka Province Minister Bowman Lusambo had last month directed immigration officers to investigate three directors at Carnival Furnitures who had allegedly sold company assets with a view of leaving the country without honouring the country’s labour laws.
Lusambo, who met some of the workers of the chain store at Manda Hill, was disturbed that more than 200 workers were at risk of losing their jobs following the closure of five retail outlets in some parts of the country.
He ordered that the directors should not leave the country until they resolved issues regarding the fate of their workers.
But according to a statement of claim filed in the Lusaka High Court, Chopade stated that in November 2020, Pillay instructed him via telephone conversation to commence the sale of damaged furniture at the warehouse and deposit the realised money into the company’s bank account.
He stated that he later learnt that some of the company’s retail shops in the country had closed due to non-payment of rentals of the business buildings to the respective landlords.
Chopade stated that he further learnt that by actions of Pillay, the employees of the company had not been paid their salary arrears for December, 2020 and other benefits due to them and they had even reported the matter to the labour office at the Ministry of Labour.
He stated that Pillay then instructed him to look for buyers of damaged furniture and sell the two trucks belonging to the company, which he did and held on to the money as per instructions.
Chopade stated that by the time he sold the two trucks, the company had been owing him salary and other benefits due to him amounting to over K400,000.
“On December 23, 2020, Pillay, knowing fully that Chopade is not part of decision making team, had his passport confiscated by the Ministry of Labour on grounds that he should not leave the country until the employees at the company had been paid their salary arrears. Pillay has been refusing to travel to Zambia to settle the employees’’ claims but has been falsely informing the employees that it’s Chopade who is answerable to the employees’ claims,” read the claim.
He is now seeking an order that the two directors – Pillay and Mubonda – should be held liable for the action of the company against the confiscation of his passport.
Chopade also wants payment of K400,000 and damages for mental anguish for life threats and causing the confiscation of his passport, costs, interest and any other relief the court may deem fit.
Chopade has also applied for an order for leave to commence the process during Christmas vacation.