Bongani Fani, the newspaper deliveryman dismissed by Independent Newspapers, has accepted an award of R34,000 (the equivalent of three-months gross pay) after a hearing at the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). It took seven months to reach the settlement for an amount slightly less than the R40,000 his lawyer had asked for. By GROUNDUP.
Fani worked for Independent Newspapers for more than 20 years, delivering newspapers in Lakeside, Muizenberg and Kalk Bay. He received a termination letter in January.
“Taking into consideration dangers involved in the work, the money is too little. However, looking at my current situation, I accepted that money,” says Fani.
Fani is now working at a car dealership as a driver, and washing cars, earning R2,500 a month. He sells dried fruit and peanuts at weekends.
“It is not easy to adjust to the new work but I am trying to close the gap,” he says.
He can’t cover the educational needs of his two children who have entered matric this year.
“My two children are still going to school. I do pay part of the fees, but there is someone helping me to meet all the costs involved,” says Fani.
Independent had accused him of poor service – a charge which Bongani denies – and alleged that he was a contractor, not an employee, and his services could be cancelled. But CCMA Commissioner Pat Stone found among other things that after 21 years service Bongani was obviously an employee.
He says the newspaper delivery work was difficult. “One wakes up as early as 3:30am every day and you may meet robbers on your way.”
He says he developed a good relationship with his clients. “Some of them still support me, buying whatever I sell in Masiphumelele during weekends.”
Independent has not yet responded to a request for comment. DM
Photo: Bongani Fani worked for Independent Newspapers for more than 20 years. Photo by Bernard Chiguvare.