Paladin fires Malawian employee, chase him out of Mwaiwathu hospital

Paladin (Africa) Limited has chased one of its ex-employees, whom it fired while on sickbed, out of Mwaiwathu Private Hospital as it revealed could no longer pay his hospital bills, Nyasa Times understands.

Francis Mkonda, who was admitted to Mwaiwathu earlier this year after collapsed while working at Paladin’s Kayerekera mine, has been shifted to government’s hospital in Chitipa though his condition still remains critical as he had his leg amputated weeks ago.

Information and documents Nyasa Times has sourced revealed that Paladin Africa fired Mkonda on 24th January as Processor Operator while still in hospital where he was admitted after developed swollen legs as a result of Uranium radiation.

The documents in our possession revealed that the company fired Mkonda on pretext that it was confronted with “continued financial difficulties”.

Paladin Africa boss Greg Walker: Paladin has no human face?
Paladin Africa boss Greg Walker: Paladin has no human face?

“Kayerekera mine has not been profitable since the start-up of production. The company’s financial situation was made worse by the steep decline in the price of the uranium oxide we produce following closure of nuclear power plants in Japan in the wake of the Fukushima Tsunami almost two years ago.

“We have reviewed roles in the Company-both expatriate and local-and identified positions which are redundant. Unfortunately, your role is one of these and therefore you have been identified as one of the employees to be retrenched,” reads the termination letter dated 24th January, 203.

However, despite the company agreed to continue meeting his medical bills, last week its officials led by its Human Resource Manager stormed Mwaiwathu hospital and ordered Mkonda to leave the institution for it has terminated his medical insurance policy and could not continue incurring the bills.

When contacted, the company’s offices in Lilongwe refused to comment on the issue.

“Sorry I can’t comment anything concerning that issue. Thank you,” said John Chandler, General Manager Operations when contacted.

But in an interview, Mkonda’s son, James confirmed the development, saying his father was forced to relocate to government hospital in his home district Chitipa on Friday as he could not afford to meet any medical cost on his deteriorating health status.

“When they came last week, they said his Medical Aid Society of Malawi (MASM) scheme has run out therefore, they can’t continue to pay the bills. There is nothing else we could do. He is in no position to work right now late alone fend for the family or pay for medication,” said James Mkonda in a telephone interview.

He added: “It’s pathetic that they chose to fire him when infact, his health problem was as result of Uranium radiation. At first his legs started swelling before it got worse and collapsed while at work on 17th January. Surprisingly, the company decided to fire him while still in hospital”.

Mkonda complained that his father, who is currently nursing a deep wound following an amputation of one his leg, was unfairly treated by the company based on how it handled his illness, arguing he was dumped at Mwaiwathu and subsequently fired from the company in an ill manner.

“They amputated his leg and he is in pain as am speaking right now. Life has become unbearable. I have tried to seek help from human right organizations, but it never worked,” complained young Mkonda.

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