Chandarana Foodplus Supermarket has pinned responsibility for a racially insensitive email on an employee identified as a marketing executive, Rima Patel.
The retail chain additionally blamed its internal oversight institutions for negligence after allowing what it referred to as a ‘misrepresentation’ to be sent to the public.
Chandarana group operations manager, Hanif Rajan, blamed the Indian national when put to task by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) Monday, insisting that the ‘incompetent’ employee was new and had limited knowledge of English language.
“We however have no idea where she currently is as when her email caused an uproar in the public, she went missing and has since been absconding her duties…when word reached her that we will be instigating disciplinary measures against her,” said Mr. Rajan.
He added that Ms Patel had been working for them on a three-month work permit due to expire on August 6.
“We however have shared her residential details with the authorities to facilitate investigations into her whereabouts,” he said.
NCIC director of complaints, legal affairs and enforcement, Kyalo Mwengi, said investigations are ongoing to look into whether the retailer targeted shoppers based on race.
“While we look for the said employee, we are also investigating the supermarket chain to establish whether it is their policy to reward customers on the basis of their race, among other underlying issues,” Mr. Mwengi said.
He pointed out that the conclusion of their investigation will determine whether Ms. Patel will be treated as an accused or a whistle-blower to malpractices at the retailer.
“We have also alerted the Immigrations Department of the case, so that the employee doesn’t leave the country,” he added.
Mr. Rajan pledged to work with the commission in the course of its investigations.
Chandarana says it hired Ms. Patel because of her expertise in marketing, having worked in other countries including Poland.
“We however did not know that her mastery of English was wanting, otherwise we wouldn’t have hired her,” he said.