August 12, 2008


Landmark victory as Tanzanian Domestic Worker in the UK is awarded £58,585 Miss Elizabeth Kawogo, a Tanzanian citizen was brought to London in July 2006 by her employer, Mrs Zainab Alibhai , a British citizen who is residing in Tanzania. She was led to understand that her key role would be to assist Mrs Alibhai through a post operative period after she underwent an operation on her leg. Upon arrival however, there was a sinister unexpected turn of events. Mrs Alibhai forcibly confined Miss Kawogo to her parent’s home, namely Mr Ramdhan Dhanji and Mrs Kubra Dhanji. Her passport was withheld and she was forced to work 15 hours a day, seven days a week without a break. Elizabeth was a domestic slave in the United Kingdom. Mrs Alibhai remained in London for two weeks where she did not undergo any medical treatment; instead she attended her daughter’s wedding. As she departed she informed Elizabeth that they would not be going back to Tanzania together, Elizabeth was to remain in the UK and work for her parents. Elizabeth who at this stage, was totally distressed begged Mrs Alibhai to send her back home to Tanzania in vain. Her life continued to be almost unbearable. Apart from working for Mr and Mrs Dhanji , Miss Kawogo was taken to the houses of other relations where once again she was required to work like a robot .Even when she was ill she was still expected to labour .On one occasion she had a fever and was given a painkiller and told to continue with her duties.Her days were filled with seemingly endless chores, a daily flood of tears and severe depression. Her only consolation was her faith and comforting verses in her bible. For a whole year Elizabeth had to endure these slave like conditions. She slept on the kitchen floor even through the winter .She ate leftovers and food that had passed it expiry date. Her only toiletries were soap , toothpaste and a toothbrush . Psychologically and emotionally she was further traumatized, taunted and humiliated for being Black. She was told she should consider herself lucky for an opportunity to be in the UK. She was reminded that would be futile to seek help as she could not speak English, did not know anyone and whatever grievances she had would no doubt fall on deaf ears. When Elizabeth asked if she could attend church , her request was initially denied .Eventually one Sunday her prayers were answered and she given permission to go and worship . In time a member of her congregation befriended her and that is when she was able to confide in her, the gruesome horrors of her existence in the UK. Concerned and compelled to act, her friend masterminded her escape and together they approached the Tanzania Women Association (TAWA) .The then acting Tanzanian High Commissioner to London Mrs Msuya advised Miss Kawago with the support of TAWA to seek legal advice. TAWA took the matter forward to the Brent community Law centre which accepted to take on the case .The Tanzania High Commission ensured that Elizabeth’s passport was returned to her. Meanhile Mr Dhanji now fearful of the outcome of his past abuses offered Elizabeth £380 to settle matters, which she rejected. The case of Miss Kawogo Vs Mr and Mrs Dhanji was heard on the 7th and 8th of August 2008 at the Watford Employement Tribunal in the UK. Miss Kawago attended the tribunal with her barrister and a TAWA representative . After the evidence was heard from both sides , the judge came to the conclusion that a great injustice and had been committed against Miss Kawogo .The tribunal awarded Miss Kawogo £ 58,585 for unpaid wages, holidays, illegally long hours of work without breaks, racial discrimination and enslavement . This landmark victory brings hope to domestic workers who may be facing similar situations and is a wake up call to those employers who are under the illusion that they are above the law. JINSI GANI MUNGU ALIVYOMWAMINIFU NA NAMNA ANAVYOJIBU MAOMBI.
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