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Embassy claims for immunity in 'slave' row

The South African Embassy has claimed diplomatic immunity at an employment appeals hearing over 'slave labour' claims involving a former diplomat and her ex-housekeeper.

The embassy faced the tribunal as a co-defendant in Dublin yesterday along with its former charges d'affaires, Thobeka Dlamini and her husband, Coy.

The couple's former domestic worker, Senelisiwe Buthelezi, claims she was paid the equivalent of just €1.66 per hour and was forced to work 18-hours a day in their Dublin home, where she also looked after the couple's three children.


Ms Buthelezi claims she was dismissed without notice when she was too sick to work, being made homeless in the process as she lived at the couples home.

Mr and Mrs Dlamini were not present at the hearing which was told they had left the country a number of days after a formal complaint had been made.

Ms Dlamini is now working in Senegal and there was no counsel present for her or her husband. Counsel for the embassy, Tom Mallon, claimed the Embassay of South Africa had "no case to answer due to diplomatic immunity".

He also said Ms Buthelezi was never directly employed by the embassy, and that she had signed a contract with the Dlamini's before moving to Ireland with them in 2012.

Tribunal chairman Peter O'Leary adjourned the case until other issues surrounding Ms Buthelezi claims are heard by the rights commission.