Factory boss shoots at union leaders

MASERU — A senior manager at a Maputsoe-based textile factory last week allegedly shot at two senior Factory Workers Union (Fawu) executives who tried to intervene in a labour dispute at the company.

Fawu’s national organiser Kaizer Mapota and the regional organiser Pako Theko had to run for their dear lives when Vincent Tsoo, the human resources manager of Tern Sportswear factory, allegedly became violent and started shooting at them.

Tern Sportswear makes garments for Adidas. 

Adidas was the official sponsor, licensee and outfitter of the Fifa World Cup in South Africa.

It also sponsored several national football teams that participated in the event.

The trade unionists had gone to Tern Sportswear to discuss allegations that Tsoo was ill-treating and had unfairly dismissed some workers.

Mapota told the Lesotho Times they had gone to the factory to meet the company’s managing director Alan Jarvis but instead they were confronted by an angry Tsoo who allegedly demanded that they leave the premises because they wanted him fired.

“He (Tsoo) asked us to get out of the factory’s yard but we refused as we had a meeting with the managing director of the factory, Alan Jarvis, who stays in Durban.”

Mapota said during the altercation Tsoo pulled out his gun.

“He walked about four steps towards us and then took out a gun. He fired at me twice but missed,” Mapota said.

“I was really shocked because I thought he had shot me. He then turned to my colleague, Theko, who tried to hide behind one of the factory’s drivers.”

He said Theko then ran away and hid behind the factory building but Tsoo followed him.

Tsoo then allegedly fired at Theko but missed again.

Tsoo then jumped into his car and left, Mapota said.

Jarvis confirmed that Tsoo had tried to shoot Mapota and Theko.

“I was told by the union organisers that the human resources manager pointed a gun and fired at them,” Jarvis said.

“I was inside the factory when he was firing at them so I did not hear anything. The organisers told me about the incident when I met them later.”

Jarvis said the company has since fired Tsoo.

Mapota said after recovering from his shock he called the police who immediately arrested Tsoo.

Mapota said they were concerned that Tsoo had fired and forced some Fawu members to resign after he laid flimsy charges against them.

“Members of our union were dismissed by the factory’s human resources manager without valid reasons,” Mapota said.

He said in August they received reports from 19 workers who had been dismissed by Tsoo.

“He was assaulting and insulting workers in the factory. He threatened to shoot one woman in the factory a few months ago,” Mapota alleged.

“Some employees decided to resign so that they could get their benefits as they realised that they were also going to be fired soon.”

Fawu represents 300 of the company’s 1 200 workers.

Acting police spokesperson, ‘Mantolo Mothibeli, confirmed the incident.

“He is on free bail and is likely to appear in court next week,” Mothibeli said.

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