Alvihag CEO denies beating, maltreatment of staff
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Alvihag supermarket, Vijay Aswuani, has denied allegations of beating and maltreatment of staff at his supermarkets, claiming that such reports are “false allegations” intended to tarnish his good track record in the country and beyond.
Speaking to our reporter in an exclusive interview, CEO Vijay said: “I have been working in the country for decades now and there has never come any time that someone has accused me of beating and maltreating my employees. How can I beat or maltreat my own countrymen? These are people that I brought to The Gambia and employ them so that they can also participate in the socio-economic development of their own people in India. In fact, most of my employees don’t even know me in person because I hardly visit my supermarkets. I can assure you all that these are smear campaigns against me. The protection of my staff from all abuses and their development will continue to remain a priority for me and my company.”
The Alvihag CEO spoke on wide-ranging issues, covering alleged beating and maltreatment of staff, deportation of some staff, jailing of his former staff alleged to have stolen millions of cash, alleged bribery of health workers at the country’s main referral hospital – Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital (EFSTH), and the death of his adopted son.
Clarifying these issues, CEO Vijay stated: “It’s also important to let you know that I have been contributing immensely towards supporting my staff. To further justify this, I have even been paying loans and debts of some staff back in India. These are all clear indications that I am committed to helping them; easing their challenges among others.”
Meanwhile, a staff of the company who spoke to The Point on condition of anonymity, said: “I heard that some staff are being beaten and others are being maltreated by the top brass of the company. However, I can’t confirm this because I have never witnessed it. For me, I have never been subjected to any beating or maltreatment since I started working at the company. I have been working here for more than two years now. But sometimes the way they treat the staff is not good.”
Further quizzed on whether some female staff of the company have also been subjected to “sexual harassment”, the source responded: “No female staff of the company has ever complained to me that they are sexually harassed by the top brass of the company. In fact, we only have a few female staff at the various supermarkets in the country.”
Our reporter was also shown the cautionary and voluntary statement of the two former staff who in their statements confirmed stealing money amounting to millions of dalasis. The accused persons were later arraigned at the Kanifing Magistrate Court and sentenced to pay a fine in default to serve various terms of imprisonment.
Deportation of Horney
Quizzed about what role he played in the deportation of Horney, who was also working at his company and why he was deported, Mr Vijay said: “I want everyone to understand that I didn’t facilitate the deportation of Horney. In Fact, I can’t facilitate his deportation because I am not the rightful authority to do so. The best thing you could do is to contact the Ministry of Interior of The Gambia Immigration Department (GID).”
However, a source who is familiar with the matter and spoke to our reporter on condition of anonymity has confirmed how Mr Horney was immediately deported under the instruction of the Minister of Interior.
The Point has also seen a letter dated 24th January 2023 and signed by the country’s Interior Minister Seyaka Sonko and addressed to the Director General of the GID instructing him to facilitate the deportation of Mr Horney.
In the said letter, the Minister indicated that the reason Mr Horney was deported is that “he was found to be displaying bad behaviour that is inconstant”.
Alleged bribery of health workers
Commenting on the money that he allegedly gave to health workers at EFSTH, Mr Vijay said: “It’s true I have given out money to one Musa Jawneh. I gave him D33,000. He Musa Jawneh is working with the Consular of India Community in Gambia. Jawneh told me that the money was meant for an Imbursement. I have never participated in such kinds of issues. This was the first time that a relative of mine died in the country and I was doing the necessary things and arrangement. However, let me make it clear that the money was not meant for bribery or any other issues. As I told you earlier on, the money was meant for an imbursement.”
Death of Vasdew commonly known as Vicky
On the death of Vasdew, the CEO of Alvihag has this to say as he shed tears: “This issue keeps me crying so much. How on earth would I participate in the death of someone that I adopted as my son? No one in the country will see me going out without Vicky. He was the one driving me everywhere that I used to go. In fact, he was the one running my business in the country. He was a son to me.”
The Point has also obtained the Autopsy report from the EFSTH concerning the death of Vicky. The report, signed by Professor Gabriel Ogun, a Consultant Pathologist, states that Vicky’s demise was a “Sudden Cardiac Death”.
Another source, who was contacted for comments on the alleged beating and maltreatment of staff at the Alvihag Supermarket and also wished to remain anonymous, said: “I have never witnessed anyone being beaten or maltreated. In fact, to me, I am treated well. I have even called one of my brothers in India and my boss is facilitating for him to also come in and work at the company.”
Efforts at getting the Minister of Interior for his comments on the issue proved futile.
Source: The Point