Johannesburg - Gertrude Skhosana worked for the same family for 24 years.
Then, after two house robberies in four months, she was dismissed by her employers.
“I couldn’t believe it. I spent my life helping them raise their children,” said the 44-year-old.
Skhosana was working in Glenvista, Joburg, when, during a house robbery in September, she was tied up, held up with a gun and put in a wardrobe after criminals stormed into the house, looking for the safe. Local security and police were alerted and both robbers were arrested.
Skhosana made a police statement and was told she would be called for an identity parade, but that did not happen.
In December, another house robbery took place.
“I was held at gunpoint at the gate and forced to open it. I was locked in the bathroom and tied up,” she said.
Eventually her employers came home and found her. She was questioned and the police were called in. The next day, her room was searched and the police told her she had to be taken in for questioning at Mondeor police station.
“A case of house robbery was opened against me. They took me to Sophiatown police station and I was there for three days,” she said.
The case was then dropped.
She called her family for help after she realised her employers would not bail her out. The family arranged for a lawyer and she was released.
“My heart was painful. All of a sudden I was this bad person,” she said.
Her employers then told her that they no longer needed her services. Skhosana asked for a written letter but alleges they did not comply. She spent the rest of December at home. Last month, she returned, and her employers offered a new contract, but she refused to sign it.
“Madam then told me to leave and said she would pay me R5 000 and deliver my belongings for free back to my home,” she said.
Skhosana did not accept as she was not paid in December and knew she was owed more compensation for all the years she worked for them.
“I was called a stubborn, stupid k***** and a jailbird,” she said.
Skhosana opened a case with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, but her former employers failed to appear in court. The case is still pending.
SA Domestic Service and Allied Workers Union organiser Eunice Dhladhla said a month’s notice had to be given before any dismissal. Skhosana had to be paid one week’s salary for each year she worked for her employers, she said.