By Chiku Jere
LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-A 30-year-old man Wilfred Rabson, is languishing locked up at Tachira Private Clinic which is located at Chinsapo in the capital Lilongwe after his employers, Malawi Dairy Industry (MDI) owners of Nzeru za Abambo filling station, allegedly refused to settle treatment bill balance amounting to MK98,000.00.
MDI Industry belongs to one of the Malawi’s self-made multi-millionaires, an agriculturalist and philanthropist, Napoleon Dzombe.
According to victim’s uncle Pastor Macdonald Kalilombe, they young man has been working as a fuel attendant at MDI’s Nzeru Za Abambo filling station situated in Chinsapo for a period of one year and a half since his employment on May 8, 2019.
On this fateful day, Saturday October 31, 2020, the young man got up early, obviously buoyed with excitement as he was informed that it was the day he was to get his end of the month salary.
He was called into the office and as usual, was given an envelope that was supposed to carry his monthly pay.
He opened the envelope and there was the money, however, there was something else that caught his attention – a folded piece of paper.
He extracted the paper from the envelope and there read the headline: “Letter of Service Termination”.
Rabson was caught unawares as he did not receive prior warning of his pending dismissal.
He could not handle the idea of losing his job in such an abrupt manner and it got the better of him.
The young man collapsed in front of his boss, hitting the ground heavily with the back of his head.
The impact of his fall sent him limp and any attempt to resuscitate him at the office proved futile that a decision was made by the management to rush him to a nearby clinic for medical attention.
The uncle told this reporter that his nephew was in a coma for two days and that the doctor at Tachira Private Clinic, Joe Kamalizeni, warned the family that the situation of the patient was delicate and there was the possibility that it could be fatal.
Miraculously, on the third day of admission, the patient regained conscious and the situation improved.
Despite this being the end of one unfortunate ordeal the young man was facing, it marked the beginning of another, in the sense that the clinic issued a MK178,000.00 bill that was to be paid before being discharged.
Kalilombe explained that when Rabson was brought in in coma, the employer told the Clinic that the bill will be on MDI, and to their word, they paid K80,000.00, promising to pay the rest in due course.
However, things took an ugly twist when the Clinic refused to discharge the patient unless the whole amount was settled by MDI as they had promised.
Kalilombe said the family wanted to take their son home for further recuperation, but MDI officials were nowhere to be seen to settle the bill balance.
He added that they took it upon themselves to follow up with MDI but what they got was ridicule and scorn from MDI officials.
“They literally told us off, accusing us of troubling them. We tried to reason with them but they got angry and challenged us to report them wherever and that they’ll no longer pay the remainder,” said Kalilombe.
The uncle said he is afraid that having to deal with the realisation of losing a job and being detained in a clinic, his nephew might not handle the psychological effect of the ordeal.
“All we want is our relative home, but the Clinic officials have stuck to their guns that they will only release him when the entire bill is settled,” said the apparently worried Kalilombe.
In desperation, the family sought government’s intervention on the matter and went to Lilongwe Police Area3 and labour office for help but nothing has materialized.
The owner of the clinic Joe Kamalizeni, who was reluctant to comment on first call, called back and explained that they had no problem to discharge the patient, but all they wanted was for the company to fulfil its obligation of paying the bill for the employee they had brought to the clinic.
“As a clinic, we don’t have a problem to release the patient but we wanted his employer to assist the employee,” said Kamalizeni, quickly adding that the patient would be released without stating time.
On his part, MDI Managing Director Bob Dzombe whom this reporter was referred to by one of company’s officials, his sister Martha Dzombe, said he was aware of the issue but denied having knowledge about his company’s commitment to pay the bill.
He acknowledged of being informed about someone, who he described as an ex-worker at Nzeru za Abambo filling station, collapsing at the company’s office premises upon learning of his firing when he came to collect his salary, but denied ordering officials at his company to take the patient to any hospital.
“I did not advise anybody at the company to take the man to any hospital for treatment, they did it as individuals; hence the company cannot be held liable to pay any bill,” explained Dzombe.
The MD continued saying there was no any written document or form that he was aware of showing that the company is liable for the bill.
Paradoxically, the narrative of the patient’s uncle and the owner of the clinic appear to confirm that the company paid the initial MK80,000 of the MK178,000 charge.