American fast food giant McDonald's has been dubbed "McGreed" in
Mpumalanga after refusing to supply anti-Aids drugs to a staff member
who was raped after working a late shift.
The transnational corporation refuses to supply transport for staff
who knock off between midnight and 2am, and who are regularly
ambushed by criminals.
A 29-year-old waitress who was gang-raped in February is so terrified
of going home after work at the McDonald's Nelspruit branch that she
spends her nights hiding in the local mall and only leaves after
The waitress, who lives in a rural village and is too afraid to be
named, is still bitter about McDonald's rejection of her appeal for
help to buy anti- retroviral drugs.
"They instead offered me a short-term, six-month loan to buy AZT. I
only earn R40 a day and there is no way I could repay the loan, so I
was forced to beg family and friends for help, and eventually only
got AZT after contacting a community-based anti-rape organisation,"
said the woman.
"My HIV test has come back negative but there is a window period. If
I do end up getting HIV, McDonald's will have helped sign my death
She also stressed the humiliation of having to repeatedly relate her
ordeal to family and friends to convince them to help her buy AZT,
which costs roughly R2 400 for a short course.
McDonald's has not provided the trauma counselling it promises
employees, and has not offered the waitress the option of working
during the day. She might still see some justice, however, after
spotting two of her attackers at a taxi rank last week.
"I was going home and saw the men just standing there. I was luckily
near a police station and had the men arrested," she said. The men
are scheduled to appear in the KaBokweni Magistrate's Court next
McDonald's human resources director Alfred Enagbare expressed concern
at the trauma the waitress suffered, but insisted "we can't just give
money to everyone who asks for it".
"We only learned of the attack nine days afterwards, when the
[Greater Nelspruit Rape Intervention Project (Grip)] contacted me to
ask for funding for AZT," said Enagbare.
"I explained we can't just give money to everyone who asks for it,
and told her that we had offered assistance but that the [waitress]
Enagbare was unable to say what the proposed assistance had been, but
said McDonald's usually offered to change shifts and paid for trauma
He was unable to say why neither policies had been implemented in
McDonald's marketing supervisor Natalie du Preez added that the
company would launch an official probe into the incident in light of
new information provided by the media.
Grip chief executive Barbara Kenyon branded MacDonald's policies as
unethical, insisting that the bureaucratic muddling could cost lives.
"There is a very short window period for AZT to save someone's life.
How can you offer someone who only earns R9,20 an hour a loan for a
drug that costs over R2 000? It would take years to pay off," said
"Our appeals for help on emotive issues like rape and Aids weren't
even handled sensitively. Enagbare was rude and eventually slammed
the phone down in my ear."
Mpumalanga's Department of Labour director Phineus Mothiba agreed
that the Basic Conditions of Employment Act clearly stated that
employers must provide transport for workers if their safety was
Mothiba said employers were also obliged to set up an employee
assistance programme that gives guidelines on what the company would
do in certain situations. " African Eye News Service
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