17 March 2022
The Congress of South African Trade Unions is deeply incensed and alarmed by the gruesome death of a domestic worker Mlungisi Nkentshisa after being mauled by his employer’s dogs. We demand drastic action against the employer who allowed this crime to take place and we want Mlungisi’s family to be compensated.
It is totally unacceptable that workers are losing their lives in such a barbaric fashion in South Africa. Domestic workers are treated like glorified slaves.
The Federation is angry to hear that the police officers have done nothing to address this issue and ensure that the victim gets justice. We are calling on the relevant authorities to investigate these disturbing allegations and ensure that the police who have failed to attend to this case are held accountable.
This outrageous incident has happened just before the nation celebrates Human Rights Day. Our enacted laws have made it very clear that Human Rights are a priority for South Africa, but the enforcement mechanisms leave a lot to be desired.
At a workplace level, we have a big challenge with domestic workers, who are continuously abused and exploited. Domestic workers’ rights are also violated with impunity and many of them are denied legal benefits to which they were entitled and are often abused and denied paid sick leave as required by law.
These workers do not benefit from the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS) and its regulations, and their employers are not held accountable. Some are forced to do hazardous work that leads to injuries and in extreme cases, this also results in death or severe disability. Another scandalous problem is that these workers find it difficult to claim from the Compensation Fund because the Compensation of Injury on Duty Act does not recognise homes as workplaces.
The exclusion of domestic workers from the Compensation of Injury on Duty Fund was ruled unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court two (2) years ago. It took the Department of Employment and Labour three (3) years to table the Compensation of Injury on Duty Amendment Bill that provides protection for domestic workers at Parliament.
There are real consequences and real victims to the government’s unforgivable lethargy and outright indifference to the plight of workers. Parliament needs to conclude the passage of this critical bill by September so that it can come into effect by the end of 2022. We cannot afford any more delays.
The Department of Employment and Labour and the Compensation Fund must in the meantime ensure that these victims, including Mlungisi’s family, receive the compensation that they are constitutionally entitled to. Such victims should not be made to suffer twice due to bureaucratic failures.
The Federation calls on the Human Rights Commission to respond to the call by the Federation for them to investigate the violation of domestic workers’ rights across the country. We are also demanding an inquest into the conduct of police officers when it comes to cases involving domestic workers.
Issued by COSATU
Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)
Tel: 011 339 4911
Cell: 060 975 6794