Game stores Boss accused of forcing employees to have sex with him

Filed under: Statements |

gameGAME Stores manager Vincent Palan has been summoned by the labour commission after company employees accused him of sexual harassment, verbal abuse and intimidation.

And former Game Stores secretary Brenda Mpoya has described Palan as an abusive boss.

But when contacted to give his side of the story, Palan refused saying he would not give any interviews because the company lawyers were handling the case.

Meanwhile labour minister Fackson Shamenda says the government will take stern action if the investigations prove Palan guilty as accused.

Palan spent most of the afternoon at the labour office in Lusaka after a written complaint by a former employee Mukamuluti Mwila.

Earlier, Mwila who was accompanied by Game union executives and three other employees to The Post, accused Palan of sexual harassment, verbal abuse and intimidation.

Mwila disclosed that Palan, on three occasions, touched her in a sexual way during work hours and threatened to have her fired if she did not oblige to his sexual overtures.

“The first time he touched the inside of my thighs and I moved away. I felt very uncomfortable but he proceeded and touched my upper thighs and even pulled down my underwear,” Mwila said before she broke down in tears.

Mwila had earlier copied her complaint letter to The Post but the editorial team decided they would only publish her story after talking to her and Palan.

Mwila said Palan on several occasions attempted to touch her breasts and bums and wanted to have sex with her if she wanted to be promoted or have a brighter future in the store.

“On several occasions, he has told me he wants me to sleep with him meaning (have sex with me). He said he could not imagine why it had not happened yet. He proudly said he was not the type of man that takes a lady to a bar or club. He said he was going to take me straight to a bed and have sex with me as he did not want to waste any time,” she said.

Mwila said after she refused to have sex with Palan, he made her job a ‘living hell’.

She said Palan also ensured that she was put out of work because she had refused to have sex with him.

“We as casual workers are paid depending on the number of hours we put in and he ensured that when I reported, he had me sent back,” she explained.

Mwila said she had just completed grade 12 and was only trying to raise college fees and pursue a marketing degree.

“It wasn’t only me he treated like this but I couldn’t do it. That man is old enough to be my father or older. Others have obliged for fear of losing their jobs but I just couldn’t,” she said.

Mwila said in an attempt to cushion her complaint, Palan had allegedly directed the human resource manager, Evaristo Hakayobe, to have a meeting with her and her aunt, Moono Mwila, who is Zambia Ladies Golf Union president in order to persuade her to drop the charges.

In a recording made available to The Post, Hakayobe and Moono asked Mwila to consider dropping the charges and said she was being used by her colleagues and the Legal Aid where she had reported the matter to.

When contacted yesterday, Moono refused to comment.

From the recording, Hakayobe told Mwila not to go ahead with her charges and told her she would end up “losing her job and other things in life”.

In a separate case, an email was obtained by The Post, sent to Palan on November 7, 2013 by a lady only identified as Stacy accusing him of sexually abusing her.

The email read: “Hey u think I forgot what u did to me in your office at Game City? Hope u enjoyed yourself. U threatened me with my job-and and laughed at me in my face when I told you I had missed my period. Now this is my pay back f…..g animal. This is just the start. I wonder how many girls you did this to and now you are a store manager, let’s see for how long.”

And former stores secretary Brenda Mpoya confirmed that she had seen the email and Palan ordered that she discards the mail and everybody else does the same.

She further added that communication between the two continued and Palan and the woman currently have a child.

Mpoya added that when she worked with Palan, he was an abusive boss.

“Palan does not know how to treat human beings be it married female or male. Even when you have a child who is sick, he does not allow you to take the child to the clinic. He scolds you and tells you all sorts of things,” Mpoya said.

“I never had sexual advances from him because I never gave him a chance. I ensured that even his jokes, I kept a distance.”

Mpoya added that Palan may have tried to make advances at her but she put her foot down and would not allow it.

When contacted to give his side of the story regarding all accusations made against him, Palan said he would not give any interviews because the company lawyers were handling the case.

He said he was not even aware of a sexual case against him in South Africa.

“I do not know anything about that and I cannot talk to you at the moment. The case is with the lawyers,” he said.

And when asked which lawyers were handling the case, Palan abruptly cut the line.

And Shamenda said the ministry would take stern action if the investigations prove Palan guilty as accused.
However, some employees at Game Stores said Shamenda was compromised because he was a very good friend of Palan.

“When Shamenda comes to Game, he gets ridiculous discounts. For example last week, he came to buy a tent at our store. The tent cost K8,800 but he was given the tent at K5, 000 and this happens a lot when he is in the store. And you will find when he is in the store, Palan is the one who pushes the trolley or even the human resource manager. No one else is allowed to attend to him,” one of the employees said.

“We have had other customers for example Wynter Kabimba comes here a lot. Jean Kapata and Wylbur Simuusa, but none of them are given such discounts or given such attention.”

But when queried about the allegation, Shamenda said he received the same discount as all other customers.

“When I shop from Game, it is during the same period like everyone, that is on Wednesday and on Thursday and I get the same discount as everybody else. I know Mr Palan as the manager of the place and I was of the view that they were just being courteous to a VIP. He is not the only one I know. Mr Mweemba and some of the female officers in that place some actually came from Ndola,” he said.

And Shamenda said he was surprised that Palan would exhibit such behaviour and maintained that their friendship would not interfere with any investigations.

“I do not tolerate such things. I have been going there and shopping there and I have even asked the union officials about their conditions and told them I would like to know about their working conditions cause I would like them to have good conditions especially in a place where I go. It is a place where I always shop, the conditions must be good,” he said.

“And after investigation, if this is proved, stern action will have to be taken. The law will have to take its course. There are no sacred cows as far as I am concerned. We do not tolerate such things and I expect people who know me to act exemplary.”