Are our children, homes safe with domestic workers? Part II

When I was senior lecturer at Makerere University and living in Kololo, my housekeeper was a smart and intelligent 30-year-old man. He was well trained and with good manners.

On engagement, he told me that he had only one wife and child. From time to time, I would entrust him with money to go and purchase food stuffs for the house or deliver to him the ones I purchased myself. I was always too busy or preoccupied to notice that the food stuffs we bought or brought to the house were always consumed very quickly or disappeared and was not accounted for. Later I became a Cabinet minister and my residence was now guarded by resident security police guards.

One day as I returned from office, a resident guard informed me that the housekeeper had been seen leaving the premises carrying a shopping basket full of food stuffs from the residence. He had been struggling to keep the basket off the ground as it appeared to be very heavy. He had stopped him and searched the bag only to find that it was full of foodstuffs and commodities such as sugar, beans, Irish potatoes, onions, salt and bars of soap.

The guard had detained both the housekeeper and the items. He carried the bag to where I was and showed me what it contained. I was astonished. I then called the housekeeper and asked him to explain. He admitted that he had a big family of three wives and seven children and the wages I paid him were nowhere enough to feed all the members of his family.

The housekeeper further stated as a matter of philosophical revelation, that he had been doing it for a number of years because since I lived alone in the house, there was no one to know what he was doing and that, in any event, I was rich enough not to worry about such small losses of food stuffs.

Learnt a lesson
I forgave him on this occasion and warned him not to do it ever again. I aised him that in future he should openly ask for my assistance and if I can, I would give him financial assistance. I thought he had genuinely learnt a lesson.

However, three months later, I discovered that my blazer jacket was missing from my wardrobe. As only he and I had access to my bedroom, which he cleaned every Saturday, I confronted him about the missing jacket and he confessed that he had removed and sold the jacket. I terminated his services.
Several months later, a friend who resided near me confessed that when my housekeeper left me he approached the friend for employment convincing him that I had been unfair to dismiss him from my service without pay and as he, my friend and his wife were themselves in need of the likes of my housekeeper, they decided to employ him without first ascertaining whether he was telling the truth about our previous relationship. They simply employed him.

My friend then revealed that they were now regretting their unwise decision to employ him without first ascertaining the truth why he left his own residence. The worker had just stolen my friend’s wife’s two pairs of shoes and several dresses and disappeared from their residence without notice or trace.

In Part I of this series, I remarked that we tend to hire home workers on their own utterances or without testimonials from credible witnesses as a result of which unpleasant consequences can occur.

I have heard of stories where resident male workers have put the children of their master or mistress or both in the family way. Another friend who had travelled and gone abroad found his houseboy and house girl using his own bedroom and bed as their own as man and woman. Several employers had their household effects stolen while they were out of their houses.

In my own case, a domestic worker who had worked for me for a number of years introduced her supposed boyfriend to me and I foolishly permitted him to visit her whenever he wished.

Never to be seen again
On day in my absence, the housekeeper emerged from my house carrying a black bag which the resident guard reasonably suspected to be full of rubbish. The housekeeper disclosed that she was carrying a lot of rubbish from the house to the rubbish pit at the bottom of the garden.

The resident police guard waved her on and resumed his habit of listening to music on his mobile telephone. The housekeeper returned from dumping “rubbish” and entered the house. About five minutes later, she came out and asked the resident guard permission to go to the local shops and buy airtime. The resident guard allowed her. She then left the premises, never to be seen again.

When I returned, I discovered that several household items were missing. She had stolen and placed them in the black bag which she must have passed on to her boyfriend over the wall.

Prof Kanyeihamba is a retired Supreme Court judge.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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