Dejected and downcast, but battled permanent incapacity to the bitterest end (April 20, 2009 – 12:38 PM)

A Hillside Aluminium operator who was diagnosed with a psychological Bipolar disorder condition has managed to keep his emotions in check even after a company doctor ordered that he must be fired for incapacity. 

But, this week Sibusiso Kunene could not keep his cool any more. 

He decided to stand his ground against the occupational general practitioner at Hillside Aluminium in Richards Bay who ordered his dismissal on medical grounds. 

Kunene with the assistance of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) has applied to the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) for the conduct of the general practitioner to be investigated and further took the dismissal case to the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

This was after the company doctor arranged Kunene’s removal from his place of work on the advice of his (Kunene’s) supervisor who is alleged to be bitter- sweet work relationship with him.

The general practitioner chose to heed the advice of the supervisor in opposition to the reports of Kunene’s three personal specialist psychiatrists who recommended that he was fit to work and instructed the company to reinstate him.

One specialist psychiatrist Dr Bodan Latecki confirmed in a letter that Kunene was fit to work and warned the company against

The psychiatrist instead recommended that the company should consider enrolling Kunene on employment management assistance programme in order to provide him with the necessary support system, but to no avail.

Kunene who was first diagnosed with the Bipolar Moods Disorder in July 2007 was also reported by a regional head of the Ngwelezana hospital psychiatry department to be compliant with his medication and did not pose a danger to himself and others.

Numsa is profoundly shocked at this unbecoming behaviour of Hillside management and wanton discrimination on health grounds. This is despite the fact that the hospital also offered to work with company doctors in assessing Kunene’s illness.

Their actions are ill-advised in terms of guidelines provided by the Labour Relations Act in terms of incapacity on grounds of ill-health.

In this case, the company did not care to establish whether the incapacity situation is temporary, partial, permanent, intermittent or total as required but chose to rely on the advise of less skilled supervisor.


For further information contact:

Mziwakhe Hlangani, Numsa national spokesperson

Mobile: 082 9407116


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