Domestic worker alleges she was beaten and stripped by her employers

Employers claim she stole money

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Photo of Tamara Marman
Tamara Marman alleges she was kept hostage for hours by the four men whose house she looked after. Photo: Zoe Postman

On 22 June, domestic worker Tamara Marman was allegedly assaulted and kept hostage for six hours by her employers in Cape Town city centre, after they accused her of stealing 100 US dollars from their cupboard. According to Marman, the group of six men slapped her, made her strip naked and threatened to rape her. Marman denied stealing the money and proceeded to open a case of assault and intimidation at Cape Town Central Police Station on 24 June.

In a statement on 8 August COSATU said that the police had lost the docket for the case. But Ezra October, Communication Officer at Cape Town Police Station, denied this to GroundUp. He said that the officer to whom Marman had initially spoken had gone on leave and handed it over to another investigator. “The docket is here at our station, I have seen it with my own eyes,” he said.

Marman explained that her employer, who is a student at Stellenbosch University, and five other men held her hostage from about 4pm to 10pm when they arranged an Uber to take her home. In this time, Marman said, they slapped and beat her using a wooden plank. She said they threatened to cut out her kidney and sell it to replace the money she had allegedly stolen.

Marman’s daughter, Nandipha Marman, who was in Johannesburg at the time, told GroundUp that she had phoned her mother at the time of the incident to tell her how business was going. She said the employer saw the missed calls on her mother’s phone and asked who “Nandi” was. Marman told them she was her daughter. “They called me and said Tamara stole from them. They said she was busy with the police at that time. I asked if they found the money on her and they told me they found it in her bra”, said Nandipha. She said she continued to call but lost contact with them after 10pm.

However, Marman said she had not spoken to the police that night and they had not found any money on her. She said: “I am 53 years old and this is not my first job. I have worked for 23 years and no one has complained about me.”

According to Marman, they also forced her to strip naked and threatened to rape her if she did not disclose where the money was. “To take off my clothes at this age, I’d rather you shoot me,” said Marman. She also said they made her write down her home address, threatening to harm her family.

Marman is concerned for her safety: “If I was staying by myself I would stay with family somewhere else, but I stay with four children and my son and daughter, so it is not easy for me to move”.

GroundUp contacted one of the men, her main employer, who refused to comment until he had spoken to his lawyer.

Provincial Police Spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk said: “At the same time the Employer also registered case docket of Theft of cash to the alleged value of R132,000. Two case dockets have been clustered and handed over to one Detective for further investigation.”

“Cape Town Central Police hereby would like to extend a warm hand of welcome to the complainant to arrange for a trauma counselling session”.

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