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Johannesburg - A tight economy, rising food prices and transport costs have contributed to an increase in theft by domestic workers, particularly in Joburg and Durban.
Alan Carey, operations director of Justicia Investigations, said crimes investigated by Justicia covered a wide range, including theft of money or jewellery and staged break-ins to more sophisticated crimes such as passing on information taken from bank statements and financial documents to syndicates.
“Although most theft within homes involves opportunistic, petty theft, criminals do use vulnerable people earning low wages to get information.”
Carey put the increase in what he formally termed “domestic dishonesty” down to a combination of the pressures of a tight economy as well as old-fashioned greed.
He added that homeowners should prevent unpleasant situations by locking away valuables and not leaving money lying around.
According to Statistics South Africa, more than 1 million people work as domestic workers in South Africa.
Cases investigated by Justicia in the first half this year were up by 70 percent on the number of cases handled in the first half of last year.
Most of the investigations were focused on Joburg and Durban.
Labour lawyer Michael Bagraim, said he did not believe there had been an increase in theft by domestic workers in Cape Town over the past three years.
But because of retrenchments, domestic workers are often the only breadwinner, earning up to R3 000 a month, and there had been cases of theft of consumables, he said.
“I work with three domestic worker cases a week and it hasn’t got worse.”