Gerald Johannes* worked for a cleaning company, Joe’s Cleaning, located in Salt River, Cape Town. He worked for the employer for a period of 5 years as a supervisor. Whilst exiting the employer’s premises one afternoon, the security guard searched his bag and found various cleaning products which belonged to Joe’s Cleaning.

He was charged with unauthorised possession of the employer’s property and attempting to remove it from the premises. Gerald was aware of the letter displayed on the employer’s noticeboard reflecting that the employer adopted a zero tolerance policy to theft. The employer had a written policy to allow their security guard to search any employees’ hand bag, locker or to do body searches.

On Monday 02 December 2013, Gerald was issued with a written notice to attend a disciplinary hearing at the employer’s premises on Wednesday 04 December 2013 at 09h00. The notice outlined the charges, in detail, levelled against Gerald. It also explained his rights.

Gerald attended the disciplinary hearing as scheduled and was afforded the right to plead to the charges and explain his version of events. He pleaded not guilty and stated that some person placed the cleaning items in his bag without his consent and knowledge.

The chairperson of the disciplinary hearing deemed Gerald’s version as improbable. On the balance of probabilities, the chairperson ruled in favour of the employer and recommended summary dismissal.

He found that the actions of Gerald were sufficiently serious to justify a dismissal. He recorded that such an act of dishonesty goes to the very heart of the employment relationship that exists between an employer and his employees. The employee’s conduct destroyed the employment relationship.

He found that Gerald’s conduct undermined the trust that exists between himself and the employer. The employer endorsed the recommendation of summary dismissal as ruled by the chairperson. Although Gerald had the right to declare a labour dispute at the CCMA within 30 days, he failed to do so and employer closed their file.

*Not their real names
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