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Mandla Mandela accused of assault! Here's what the law says about assault in the workplace

by , 10 October 2013
Former president Nelson Mandela's grandson, Mandla Mandela is in the news for all the wrong reasons once again. This time, he's been accused assault. Eye Witness News has reported that a case of assault and pointing a firearm has been opened against Mandla. While this incident didn't happen at work, assault and fighting at the workplace has become a major reason for dismissal. Here's what the law says you should do in these cases...

A 44-year-old man has laid a complaint against Mandla Mandela. This after he allegedly pointed a gun at the man during an argument in Mthatha. While the spokesperson told the Business Day the accusations were 'pure fabrication,' it's brought assault to the forefront of many business owners' minds.

According to the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service, assault is classified as the unlawful and intentional application of force to a person, or a threat that force will be applied. For example, physically beating someone up, threatening to punch someone or, in the case of Mandela, waving a gun in someone's face.

So what does the law say about assault in the workplace?

The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service explains that South African criminal law plays a large role in assault cases because society shouldn't tolerate assault and fighting and those who perform it should be criminally punished.

What's summary dismissal?

Summary dismissal is when an employee is dismissed without notice. His dismissal is immediate, following a disciplinary enquiry.

It's different from other dismissals because your employee isn't entitled to notice as agreed in the employment contract or as set out in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA).

By dismissing an employee summarily, you effectively declare that you're no longer bound to the contract of employment.

Serious offences that would lead to summary dismissal include: 'Physical assault on the employer, a fellow employee, client or customer.'

As an employer, you must judge each case on its own merits and judge accused employees according to their individual and unique circumstances.

For instance, if a fight takes place, don't automatically dismiss both parties. Rather establish the exact role played by each employee and consider the circumstances of the fight, and the personal circumstances of each employee.

Don't forget to use an appropriate penalty for each employee involved. And be consistent when applying these penalties.

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