Photo: African News Agency (ANA)

JOHANNESBURG - The High Court in Pretoria has handed down a ruling that the exclusion of domestic workers in the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA) is unconstitutional, the United Domestic Workers of South Africa (UDWOSA) said on Friday.

This comes after Maria Mahlangu’s family were told they could not be compensated as Mahlangu’s dependants because domestic workers were excluded from the benefits of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act No. 130 of 1993 (COIDA).

Mahlangu had been a domestic worker for two decades when she drowned in her employer’s pool. She was employed by a family for 22 years. 

But when she died, they offered her daughter, Bongi Mahlangu, R5 000 as compensation.

The co-founder of the United Domestic Workers of South Africa (UDWOSA) Pinky Langa, said the exclusion of domestic workers from COIDA was essentially about the exclusion of and disregard for the value of domestic labour and the dignity and rights of workers, who were predominantly women. 

"The victory at the high court today signalled the beginning of positive change for over 1 million of workers in South Africa," said Langa. 

Langa said with the help of the South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers Union (SADSAWU) domestic workers will finally get justice, regardless the rejection she faced.

"Whilst we celebrate the inclusion of domestic workers in COIDA, the journey is still long as we look toward a positive ruling on retrospectivity. Which is to ensure that past and present cases of injuries including that of Mahlangu would be able to claim over and above future cases. The Constitutional Court of South Africa will hand down the final ruling on the matter of retrospectivity," said Langa.

"We remain, resolute and determined to usher in a new era for the domestic workers movement in South Africa. We forge ahead with the struggle for equality, equity and justice for ALL domestic workers. We are appealing for solidarities and amplification of our struggle in the media and invite organizations to pledge their support in helping to amplify the upcoming case on retrospectivity and the process for compliance to the high court ruling on the inclusion in COIDA." 

African News Agency (ANA)