Cape Town - A human resources officer at retail giant Pick n Pay is being accused of calling coloured people lazy.
When former police detective Shareef Carlse visited the store’s Tyger Valley branch last month, he was requested by the manager to follow him to an office so they could check the availability of a product.
Carlse, 48, said that while they were busy, another man entered the office and said, out of the blue, “coloureds just don’t want to work, they are such a lazy lot”.
Carlse sent a letter of complaint to the chain store’s head office and a copy was forwarded to the Cape Times.
Carlse said he has yet to hear from Pick n Pay’s human resources’s head office.
Pick n Pay has denied that any of its staff made such a remark.
In his letter, Carlse explained: “I asked him if he knows me or have (sic) a relationship with me that will allow him to say something like this in my presence. He looked at me almost astonished that I would ask him something like that.”
Carlse wrote that he then proceeded to ask the man why he would say such a thing.
“I think it was only then that he realised that I was a member of the public and not someone that worked with him that he could undermine. He then answered that he is in HR and that he had just black people’s CVs, and that he wants to give coloured people work but they are too lazy to hand in their CVs to him,” Carlse said.
At that moment the HR officer allegedly asked another employee in the room if he thought what he said was wrong.
And the response he received was “you have issues to sort out”, Carlse wrote.
“Now these statements out of the mouth of HR might be Pick n Pay policy or it might be that it’s his own racist employment policy that he is practising under the Pick n Pay brand,” Carlse said.
Pick n Pay provincial general manager Jarett van Vuuren denied any member of his staff made the remark.
“Pick n Pay has zero tolerance for racism. We have investigated this incident and can confirm we have witnesses who were in the office at the time, and who will attest that no such remark was made,” Van Vuuren said.
When put to Carlse, he challenged the retailer to draw video footage and “see for themselves”.
“I would love them to do a lie detector test on their employees. I am 100 percent sure of what I heard. If they look on video, they will see the action and my reaction. They will also be able to lip read and see,” Carlse said.
It would take time to do this, according to Jennifer Crocker, who works for Pick n Pay’s public relations company Corporate Image.
Carlse said that 20 minutes after the alleged incident at 9.40am, he called Pick n Pay head office in Kenilworth and spoke to a staffer who gave her name as Linda, who said she would ask the store’s regional manager to contact him.
At 6.03pm he received a call from a person who identified himself as the regional manager, who said he had spoken to the person who made the alleged remark, but he had not been informed about the insult to coloured people.
“He then told me that he would get in contact with head office HR to lay this matter in front of them and that he will come back to me,” Carlse said.