Durban - Science and Technology Deputy Minister Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi broke her silence on Thursday over questions that she ignored mandatory identity checks and labour law policies when employing a domestic worker.
Earlier this week it emerged in court that the NFP leader’s domestic worker, Mozambican Amina Vasco, 23, was in the country illegally. Vasco, with four others, is facing charges of robbery after kaMagwaza-Msibi’s daughter, Zama Gumede, was allegedly held up at knifepoint at the family’s Keynsham Drive, Somerset Park home in uMhlanga on July 30. An amount of R500 000 in cash and a cellphone were alleged taken from the house.
She told the Daily News she had hired Vasco three months ago through her sister.
The woman had been working for her sister’s neighbour as a domestic in Mahlabathini, and according to the NFP leader, she considered the woman a South African because she had been in the country since she was 5 years old.
The woman had grown up in KwaHlabisa after moving to South Africa with her mother, who kaMagwaza-Msibi said later died.
When probed further on the nature of the woman’s employment, telephonic communication with kaMagwaza-Msibi was lost.
Subsequent calls were not answered and eventually, the phone was answered by a man who said she was in a departmental meeting.
The IFP’s leader in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature, Blessed Gwala, has condemned kaMagwaza-Msibi for employing Vasco.
“How can you be a deputy minister and have someone illegal in the country working in your home,” he asked.
The DA’s chief whip, John Steenhuisen, said that while it could be a costly mistake by kaMagwaza-Msibi, he did not want to lay blame on her because she could have possibly employed the worker from an employment agency in good faith. “As government representatives we have to lead by example as we have a responsibility to the public.”
Speaking on the matter, the acting deputy director-general for labour policy and industrial relations in the Department of Labour, Thembinkosi Mkalipi, said employers needed to ensure they had their employees’ legal documents.
“When someone is in your employment they need to be registered with the Unemployment Insurance Fund. In order for this to happen, the employer has to check their identity, work permit or their refugee status,” said Mkalipi.
“We are merely concerned with workers being registered to work. Their immigration status is based purely on Home Affairs. The process of registering workers also entails stating when they started in your employment and how much they earn.”
Contacted for comment on kaMagwaza-Msibi’s domestic worker, the Department of Home Affairs director for the eThekwini district, Tersia Hanekom, said she was unaware of the issue. But she gave a general overview of the consequences of being caught illegally in the country.
“If someone is illegal they will have a chance to defend themselves in our courts. The person can only be held for a maximum of 30 days before being deported back to their country. People need to make themselves aware of immigration rules when employing foreigners,” said Hanekom. “The person who is seeking employment should have a valid permit to work and there are conditions attached to this. We cannot employ any foreign national who does not possess this.”