Domestic worker forced into dilemma during COVID-19 lockdown

Image: AFP/ Guillem Sartorio. Source: Egypt Independence

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The nationwide lockdown that was announced by South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa to help control the spread of Corona virus has left many families without jobs. Bosses in the informal sector especially, continue to exploit and abuse their employees.

Nandi* (not her real name) is a single mother of two, residing in Eden Park (a township in the Eastrand of Gauteng). Nandi is currently working as a domestic worker. She was recently told by her employer that if she decides to stay home during the lockdown she must not even think of coming back to work, as they cannot risk “having someone coming in with the virus.” Nandi was in a dilemma. Either she had to leave her children with her older woman relative while locked down in her employer’s home, or she had to quit the job and come home to her children, as she is not certain when the pandemic would end.

Nandi felt her employer was being very inconsiderate, and disregarding the fact that she did everything that was asked of her without question. This is despite the fact that some of the tasks she performs is not part of her job description. This includes washing her employer’s dogs.

Nandi decided to stay home during the lockdown and when Level 5 ended recently, she received a call from her employer asking her to return to work. Nandi is now back at work.

This article was submitted on 13 May 2020. You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online (, and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.

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