The 31-year-old security guard who said that she was dismissed from her workplace last year after she disclosed her HIV status to a company client has got her job back.
Nomzamo Ntamo, (not her real name), a former security guard posted at a clothing store in Canal Walk, Century City, said she was fired by her employer after she told the store manager about her status. She said this was an “innocent and confidential” conversation with the store manager, but the manager told her employer without her consent.
Ntamo, who has had HIV for more than 10 years after being raped, said it was the first time she had disclosed her status and that she felt discriminated against after she was initially sent to different sites in a bid to frustrate and eventually dismiss her.
“After my story was published, my employer contacted me and apologized for the misunderstanding, and indicated that they would offer support in every decision I made, including my case against the clothing store,” she said.
“I’m happy that I got my job back, but what was done to me made me feel rejected,” she said.
Ntamo has since been moved to a different site in Milnerton, which she said is convenient for her as it is close to her place of residence and has “a conducive working environment”.
But she said she was determined to continue with the case that she lodged with the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).
She said her dismissal not only affected her self-confidence but also her mental health, after she was admitted to Somerset West Hospital for almost two weeks following an emotional breakdown.
“I have learnt that I should not trust just anyone. I’m even afraid to go to the clinic because some people might judge me. It’s hurtful because I never chose to be affected by the virus. But I have decided to look on the bright side and work towards improving my health and taking care of my family,” she said.
SAHRC commissioner Chris Nissen said what Ntamo experienced was a human rights violation, and that no one should be discriminated against on the basis of their personal ailment.
“Why are we stigmatizing HIV/AIDs and why are we allowing this to happen in the workplace?” he asked.