What could be more important than finding the right person to look after your child?
Working parents often need extra help with their little one, but it’s hard to find someone trustworthy who’s willing and able to take on such a big responsibility.
In late October last year, a Lonehill woman was stabbed to death, allegedly by her domestic worker who also helped look after her children.
The woman’s four-year-old child reportedly spent hours with her body before receiving help.
In another incident, Soweto toddler Siya Madubung was kidnapped during an alleged robbery at his home in Protea Glen, also in October last year.
Thankfully, the 15-month-old boy was found unharmed in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal.
However, Siya’s nanny is now one of the suspects arrested in connection with the kidnapping.
She’s believed to have orchestrated the robbery and kidnapping.
These are extreme cases, but they prove there are no guarantees, even if you know the person beforehand.
Siyabonga’s minder and another suspect are relatives – his mother’s cousins.
Fezile Ngubane knows exactly how tough it is to find a good nanny.
The 22-year-old mom from Tongaat tells DRUM that her son, Lihle Ndlovu (3), got his first nanny this year and everything has been going well.
Fezile found her nanny through her sister.
“She used to take care of my sister’s children,” she explains.
“They are now older, so I asked her to come take care of mine. I loved the way she took care of my sister’s kids.”
Still, the young mom notes that she doesn’t leave everything up to the nanny, and advises that parents should help out if they can.
“I work only on weekends, so during the week I wash my son, feed him and do other chores,” she tells us.
“It’s also important that you, as a parent, show the nanny how you prefer things to be done, and communicate with them.”
But hiring someone your family knows or a relative can be risky.
Zama Ngudle* (24) works in Johannesburg, and she left her six-year-old daughter, Aphelele*, back home in Mpumalanga in the care of her aunt.
“My aunt had a granddaughter who was almost the same age as my daughter,” she says.
“She would take the clothes I bought for my daughter and dress her granddaughter instead.”
Zama adds that the aunt also called her a few times claiming Aphelele was sick.
She later discovered that her child was perfectly healthy, and it was just a ploy to get money.
Zinhle Mofokeng (27) from Soshanguve in Tshwane tells us she found her previous nanny on the internet. But, the experience was not good.
“I would go to work and the nanny would take my son to the freeway to beg for money,” she recalls.
“Neighbours told me, and I caught her myself after investigating. That’s when I decided never to hire a nanny again.”
"There's no such thing as the perfect nanny,” warns expert Laurie Ann Hingst.
Laurie owns Super Nannies, an agency that specialises in nanny placement and training. She stresses the importance of determining what your family’s needs are first, and then looking for someone who suits those needs.
“A pleasant personality and experience are sometimes more important than lots of qualifications,” she notes. “References are important to check up on.”
Look for qualities such as a good attitude, honesty, reliability, initiative and a willingness to communicate and perform tasks as instructed, Laurie suggests.
“Skills can always be taught,” she points out.
“As a parent, it’s important to trust your gut instinct when making your choice.
Nobody is perfect but the nanny must fit in with your family requirements, and the parent/employer must be realistic about their expectations.”
Parents should guide their nannies on topics like potty training, discipline, giving medication, putting a baby to sleep, safety, activities, food, watching television, household chores and the other rules, she adds.
The safest way to find a good nanny is probably through a placement agency, Shaun Winter of Jozi Cares Au Pairs weighs in.
“Don’t just go to Gumtree and look for a nanny,” he insists.
“Going through an agency will help because it will do all the screening, including the criminal clearance checks.”
This helps to eliminate potential pitfalls, and you get peace of mind that your child is in good hands.
* Not their real names.