Shoprite came under fire following allegations that female staffers, one of who is pregnant, were arrested and publicly humiliated after being caught stealing. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi

Johannesburg - Minister for Women in the Presidency Susan Shabangu on Wednesday expressed shock at the alleged punishment seven Shoprite staff members were subjected to after they were caught stealing.

Shoprite came under fire following allegations that female staffers, one of who is pregnant, were arrested and publicly humiliated at a Shoprite branch in the Western Cape over the theft. 

According to a report, a controller at the store gave the workers permission to collect tips and after this came to light, the workers were dismissed and accused of theft.

Shoprite, in its response, confirming that it had dismissed the employees over the incident.

“Shoprite can confirm that a number of employees from its Pelican Park store have been charged with theft and have had their first court appearances. The law must now take its course.

“Shoprite is a unionised employer and has established channels through which staff can raise grievances to be investigated accordingly. Further comment would be that in line with global retail practice, Shoprite cashiers are not allowed to receive tips.”

READ MORE: 7 female Shoprite staffers humiliated for allegedly stealing

Shabangu in a statement expressed slammed the retail group for the way the matter was handled.

“Shoprite’s inhumane actions take place as Women’s Month draws to a close, and at a time when South Africa as a country is tirelessly working collaboratively to address the high rates of violence against women.

“This form of violence perpetrated upon the beings of the victims is not only unconstitutional, but it also resembles the brand of power and control that reproduces racist, classist and gendered forms of violence.”

Shabangu also called out Shoprite for charging the staff members for receiving tips from customers while paying them low wages.

She further called on the retailer to drop the charges against the women, adding that any violence against women had no place in today’s society.

“Any form of violence against women, be it physical, emotional and financially, is not acceptable and has no place in our democratic country. On top of that, these women have families yet Shoprite continues to exploit them by paying them slave wages of R2400 a month.”

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has confirmed it received a formal complaint over the incident and has launched an investigation.