Cell C has suspended close to 1300 workers and is threatening to fire them for demanding their bonuses, while acting CEO and top executives are smiling all the way to the bank.

On Tuesday, Cell C threatened to sue the Information Communication and Technology Union (ICTU), which represents close to 1 300 striking workers in the mobile phone company.

The company, which is at loggerheads with the union, also threatened to dismiss employees engaged in an ‘unprotected strike’.

The strike action by ICTU which commenced on Monday is over a dispute between Cell C and the union regarding the non-payment of 2017/18 outstanding performance bonuses.

Meanwhile, the people at the top are making stupid money as the company fails to take care of its main stakeholder, the workers.

TechFinancials has reliably learnt that Cell C top executives and chiefs were paid ‘fat special bonus’.

“When Jose Dos Santos left Cell C, we hoped that things would improve, but it seems that the acting CEO is behaving in the same way, if not worse,” insiders informed TechFinancials.

Jose dos Santos
Jose dos Santos, Cell C strategic advisor to the chairman, Kuben Pillay. Image source:

Douglas Craigie Stevenson took over as an interim boss of Cell C from Jose Dos Santos, who resigned as CEO on 1 March 2019.

Dos Santos has been kept as a consultant offering strategic advice to the chairman of the Cell C board Kuben Pillay.

Stevenson had a meeting with all the senior leadership of Cell C in early March, according to insiders.

He raised the issue of bonuses for the senior staff, saying he was talking to Cell C’s remuneration committee, and informed other senior executives that “you should leave it with me.”

Douglas Craigie Stevenson
Douglas Craigie Stevenson, Cell C Acting CEO. iMAGE SOURCE: How South Africa

Insiders say the impression left was that senior staff would be paid a bonus, just like the junior staff, that “received” their bonus in March this year.

“What is most disappointing is that he has not kept this promise and no bonus has been paid,” said another insider.

Instead, insiders claim that Stevenson paid himself and a few select executives a ‘special attention’ bonus in April.

The amount allegedly shared by the top 6 executives is believed to be in a region of R77 million, which was “paid” in January.

Then another R44 million to R50 million was allegedly paid this month to selected chiefs. The chiefs include Daniel Dana Bakker – chief technical officer, Graham Mackinnon, chief legal officer, Adrian Lotz, finance executive head and Julian Mhango, chief of HR.

Cell C did not respond to queries on the matter.

“This underhanded behaviour and broken promises are leading to a lot of unhappiness among the senior staff at Cell C,” insiders told TechFinancials.

Meanwhile, Cell C has also been placed deeper into ‘junk’ status by S&P rating agency, which downgraded its rating profile.

“Cell C’s liquidity position continues to weaken while refinancing risk has intensified because of upcoming debt maturities,” S&P said in a statement last week.

This might delay Cell C plans to list the company on the JSE in 2020.



  1. […] Last week the mobile phone company, which is 45% owned by JSE-listed telecoms firm, threated to fire these workers for demanding their bonuses, while acting CEO and top executives are smiling all the way to the bank. For more read: Cell C Bosses Get Multimillion ‘Special Pay’ Despite Not Paying Workers Bonuses […]


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