Worker at South African High Commission fired over text message

High Commissioner Zodwa Lallie confronted the worker about the text before telling her she wanted her gone. Photo / Natalie Slade
High Commissioner Zodwa Lallie confronted the worker about the text before telling her she wanted her gone. Photo / Natalie Slade

A text message sent to the wrong phone number has resulted in a domestic worker losing her job at the South African High Commissioner's home in Wellington.

Fairfax is reporting Patience Komla, who has worked for her country's high commissions throughout the world for the past 15 years, was sacked on the spot and had her passport confiscated after she wrote about an incident at the official residence in a text message.

It was mistakenly sent to an attache at the high commission with a similar phone number as a friend in Ghana.

The message made reference to a passing remark made by High Commissioner Zodwa Lallie to another staff member that people in the residence rarely wished her well and wondered if something was wrong with her.

" ... I help her and on our way she stop by the kitchen as usual not knowing am waiting just close by and the other lady said shd have a good day and she responded thanks and that she don't have many pple in this HSE who say those things to her bcos she might have a bad smell!" (sic) read part of the text.

Ms Lallie confronted the long-serving domestic worker about the text before telling her she wanted her gone. Fairfax report the High Commissioner then ordered her out of the official residence immediately, booking her a room at a hotel, handing her $50 and ordering a driver to take her away.

The domestic worker's contract included a clause that she not discuss any information about her employment or employer or events inside the official residence. A breach entitled the employer to end the contract with a day's notice.

Ms Komla told Fairfax she made a mistake but did not think she should have lost her job.

She was now staying in Dannevirke and was not sure about her future.

A spokeswoman at the High Commission told Fairfax Ms Komla's actions were regarded as a serious employment breach where trust and confidentiality were essential for all staff.

An Immigration NZ spokesman said Komla's work visa was no longer valid, but no action would be taken against her until her situation was fully assessed.

- NZ Herald

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