Embassy worker left in limbo

By Christine McKay

1 comment
Ghanaian woman Patience Komla has been living in Dannevirke unable to work after she was sacked by the South African High Commissioner on March 3. Photo / Christine McKay
Ghanaian woman Patience Komla has been living in Dannevirke unable to work after she was sacked by the South African High Commissioner on March 3. Photo / Christine McKay

Patience Komla's life has been in limbo since she arrived in Dannevirke after being sacked by the South African High Commissioner.

Ms Komla, a domestic worker at the commissioner's home in Wellington, was dismissed after she mistakenly sent to an attache a text message intended for a friend.

High Commissioner Zodwa Lallie sacked Ms Komla, and she was left with no passport or visa, just a hotel room and $50.

"It was traumatic. I had been with the South African embassy for 15 years and I'd previously worked for Lallie at the high commission in Ghana. I believe we had a good relationship," she said.

Ms Komla was left with few options, so the next day she caught a bus to Dannevirke where her friend Dennis Dunbar lived. "My friend wasn't home, so I spent my first night in Dannevirke sleeping under a tree. I was traumatised and stayed under the tree until Denny came home on Saturday morning."

Employed by the high commissioner and not the South African embassy, Ms Komla has hired a Dannevirke lawyer while she tries to recover from the shock of what has happened.

"Denny has been a wonderful friend to me for two years and although I've got my passport back, I don't have a visa, so can't work," she said. "It's not my style to be sitting around doing nothing, it's really difficult and I'm now facing a big challenge."

Mr Dunbar said although he only had the pension to live on, the couple were "getting by".

"It's very frustrating for Patience, not being able to work, but we're doing things by the book and have fronted up to Immigration and I feel there's a bit of support from the staff there," he said. "Immigration staff have always been nice and polite, but this situation is a challenge because Patience can't sit still. I have to run around the house making a mess so she can clean. My house has never been cleaner." Ms Komla is hoping she can do volunteer work at Dannevirke's Knox Presbyterian Church while she awaits Immigration's decision.

"I want to stay in New Zealand because I wouldn't get a job in Ghana," she said. "I'm used to working hard and would wake at 6am in Wellington and work until 8pm or 9pm five or six days a week. I worked a minimum of 70 hours. Sunday was my day off, but I'm not a sitting down person."

Mr Dunbar said Ms Komla is his mate. "We spend time laughing and enjoying each other's company and I hope that can continue," he said.

The South African High Commissioner declined to comment.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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