Domestic worker called the k-word now fights for others

2015-04-04 15:13
Gloria Kente (Nielen de Klerk)

Gloria Kente (Nielen de Klerk) (Twitter)

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Cape Town - Gloria Kente, the Cape Town domestic worker who was called a "kaffir" and assaulted by her former employer's boyfriend, has moved on by working to make sure other domestic workers know their rights.

And she says she won't hesitate becoming a domestic worker again if she has no income and a position opens up.

"I am a newborn woman. My health is okay now. I am moving on with my life," 51-year-old Kente said as she headed to Sea Point to recruit people for her union.

"I will move on and do my work. White people are not all the same."


The Mfuleni resident, originally from the Eastern Cape, was not expecting the law to be on her side when Andre van Deventer was charged with crimen injuria and assault in 2013.

She had been a live-in domestic worker for his girlfriend at the time, raised their children, and felt she was part of the family.

This view was shattered when Van Deventer grabbed her by her pyjamas, spat in her face, and verbally assaulted her.

The Cape Town Magistrate's Court agreed with her version of events and in February sentenced Van Deventer to two years' house arrest and 70 hours of community service.

He admitted to the court that he had problems with aggression, drugs and alcohol, and was directed to complete a number of programmes to help him.

The Cape Town Equality Court also ordered that he pay her R50 000 in compensation in a separate hate speech case.

Justice for domestic workers

Kente said she now sees justice for domestic workers.

Without a job, the SA Domestic Services and Allied Workers Union (Sadsawu) offered her a part-time organiser role in November.

Based on her experiences so far, she believes the relationship between employers and their domestics leaves much room for improvement.

"In the office, people come in crying. We must be like social workers and ask them [what is wrong] and then the story is going to come out," she says.

On the one hand, Kente knows there are employers who throw their domestics out of the house after many years of service, or who treat them with disdain and suspicion.

"What they should know is that the domestic worker is a human being like them and the employer can rely on them because they are very patient and understanding people.

"I want to see warmth from the employer," she says, adding that most domestics work extremely hard.

On the other hand, she understands it is not right for some domestics to take advantage of their employer and believe they can get away with anything.

Home ownership

Through a special union programme, Kente is set to own her first home sometime this year.

She currently lives with two of her daughters, in their thirties, while her other daughter, 23, lives in East London.

Kente said she was excited and had many plans for her house, which will be built in Pelican Park, Cape Town.

"When I get my house I want to invite the people that were involved in this case, like my lawyer Henry Williams, so we can sing and dance in front of it."

She wanted to thank Williams and deputy Rural Development Minister Mcebisi Skwatsha.

Skwatsha heard about her case, tracked her down and hired Williams to represent her.

*Attempts to contact Van Deventer through his former lawyer, Henry van der Westhuizen, were unsuccessful.

Read more on:    cape town  |  racism  |  crime

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