WhatsApp gets domestic workers in hot water

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busted 3 eBlockwatch/facebook Domestic workers who flaunt their employers' stolen goods or send images of themselves at play while at work risk losing their jobs, the South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers Union has warned. Photo: eBlockwatch/facebook

Durban - Two domestic workers – one wearing her employer’s clothing and the other posing on a bed during working hours – have been busted after posting pictures of themselves on a social networking site.

Both maids had not realised that they had not deleted their respective employers as their “friends” from the cellphone application WhatsApp.

André Snyman of eBlockwatch, a national community network organisation, said a domestic worker photographed herself wearing a dress she had stolen from her boss and posted it as her profile picture on WhatsApp.

“Her employer was shocked when she saw her wearing her dress. She now plans on bringing criminal charges against her.”

He said the domestic worker had been fired a few weeks ago when her employers discovered money, clothing and other valuables were missing from their home.

“She denied any wrongdoing. But now she has been caught red-handed. She still had the audacity to demand her wages in full. She threatened to go to CCMA.”

In another incident, a Durban woman, who did not want to be named, said she had received a WhatsApp message from her domestic worker, asking her to buy more cleaning products for her flat.

“I didn’t recognise the phone number, so I zoomed in on the profile picture to see who it was from: it was of the person I had got in on a trial basis to clean my home. She had taken the photo of herself while lying on my bed.

“When questioned why she was lying around instead of working, her response was ‘I was sitting on the bed’. But, the photo shows, she was lying.”

She fired the maid.

On Tuesday the South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers Union (Sadsawu) said it was unacceptable for domestic workers to flaunt their wrongdoing or abuse their employers’ homes on social networking sites.

Sadsawu secretary-general, Myrtle Witbooi, said this appeared to be a new trend by “foolish” domestic workers.

“I have heard of a few instances where domestic workers posted pictures of themselves in their employer’s clothing on Facebook. It appears to be a new trend. Whats-App is free, so many domestic workers use the application. But, it seems they are burning their fingers in the process. They obviously don’t understand how it works.

“Many of them don’t realise that they have their employers as their ‘friends’ on these forums and they can see all their activity. Things like this give employers proof to charge them criminally.”

She said in many instances employers ignored wrongdoing by their domestic workers.

“This is not right. If a domestic worker does wrong, she must be spoken to and given a warning. If not, they will take advantage of the situation.”

She encouraged domestic workers to respect their employers’ homes and property.

“They should be honest and respect their place of work. In these two cases, even we as a union cannot help. They have been busted. The one who stole should be made to pay back the value of whatever she stole.”

Domestic worker agency owner, Olu Khonjwayo, of Find-a-maid, said she was shocked by the brazenness of the maid.

“It’s crazy that she is boasting about her wrongdoing. It’s not acceptable. In fact, it’s plain stupid to put herself out there like that.”

Lucia Dreyer of Nice and Clean Service said this was the first time she had heard of it. She said as a deterrent to theft, maids were searched daily.

The picture of the maid in her boss’s clothing was posted on the eBlockwatch Facebook site.

Cecile Kiley described it as “PRICELESS!”

Reva Barendse: “You have to love technology.”

Delia James Vermaak wrote: “Busted!!!!!!!”

Karin-Marie Heunes: “How on earth did this clever one get caught on WhatsApp?”

Eve Smith: “If the maid is in your list of contacts, then she would probably have put a profile picture of herself – like the ones you see next to all the Facebook threads. All you then do is click on the WhatsApp contact to open, then tap on the profile picture to enlarge and voila! Then you take a printscreen to save the evidence.”

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