There are growing calls for government to monitor foreign recruitment agencies operating in SA, as more reports emerge of South Africans being stranded abroad after accepting job offers from outside the country.

This is after yet another SA teacher working at a private school abroad has alleged that she was trapped in the country following a contractual dispute with her employer, reports City Press.

According to the Port Shepstone Human Rights Centre, which has expressed concern for her safety and welfare, the woman, who hails from KZN, responded to a recruitment agency's job posting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and completed several interviews before signing a one-year contract with the school.

The contract was based on a sponsorship visa.

However, on arriving in Riyadh, the woman was ‘confronted with appalling living conditions, including dirty and broken furniture, soiled beds, and a cockroach infestation’.

On her first day, the teacher raised her concerns with the school's management, as she had been forced to live with another couple in squalid conditions.

She also discovered that her one-year contract had been replaced with a two-year contract.

When she refused to sign the new contract, the school allegedly demanded that she pay R120 000 for airfare and visa expenses, an amount far exceeding the actual costs. 

‘She has since been left to fend for herself as the private school refused to give her an exit visa, a requirement she needs to leave the country,’ the Port Shepstone Human Rights Centre said in a statement.

It added: For the past week, the educator has been calling on the SA Foreign Affairs officials in Riyadh and SA for help but to no avail. The Port Shepstone Human Rights Centre urged the SA Government to monitor foreign recruitment agencies more closely and to ensure that they comply with SA law, including minimum standards for the treatment of workers.’ 

Dirco spokesperson Clayson Monyela said the department was aware of similar situations in the Middle East but could not intervene in contractual disputes based on local law.

This comes at the back of allegations by another SA teacher, Nolusindiso Hleko, who was allegedly assaulted by the human resource manager at a kindergarten school in Shanghai, China.

Hleko took to social media last week, seeking help with leaving China after she received no joy from Dirco, reports City Press.

Hleko was eventually assisted by Dirco to leave the country and was taken to Germany where she received support from the SA Embassy.

Monyela added that the department had been getting reports of slave-like conditions, exploitation and abuse from SA nationals working outside the country.

Full City Press report