Bongani Hans

KFC is being challenged to reinstate an employee who was dismissed for bringing non-halaal food to work.

The fast-food outlet in Empangeni, KwaZulu-Natal, dismissed Jabulani Cele last month. He had been working for the restaurant for six years.

The franchise is owned by the Colefax Trading (Pty) Ltd and Yum Restaurants, which follows Islam.

According to a letter of suspension handed to Cele in March, his offence was to bring non-halaal food – uphutu and bean curry – onto the restaurant’s premises.

Cele, 31, a father-of-two, said workers had been allowed to bring their own lunch and eat it in a demarcated staffroom. He said the staffroom was closed when the new employer took over last year. He said the employees were ordered to keep their lunchboxes outside the building.

He said that on the day he committed the offence, he arrived at work and entered the premises with his lunchbox. “The store manager accused me of breaching the company policy.” He was given a letter of final warning, which he refused to sign.

Cele was suspended, then dismissed last month.

Cele has referred the matter to the United Chemical Industries Mining Electrical State Health and Aligned Workers unions. The matter has been taken to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration. The matter will be heard on August 10.