Hire at One's Own Risk, Sometimes Tragedy

Sep 10 , 2022
By Eden Sahle

Last week, there was a tragic murder of children that became major news. It is impossible to comprehend the agony their parents must be feeling. Although most criminal cases do not become this publicly talked about, they are not rare. Many people have paid a painful price for the housemaids and the hired guards.

Some housemaids and guards often come to the capital city not only to look for jobs but also to hide from their prior criminal activity committed outside Addis Abeba. They come with new identities and falsified stories, only to commit another crime shortly after.

Among the many horror stories that pushed me to decide not to practice law was that of a maid who killed a mother and her three children, one of them just a few days old. The maid’s reason for the crime was that her employer forced her to stay on duty around the New Year until her husband returned from his business trip. She killed them and went to celebrate with her family in town as if she had not hurt a fly. The husband came to his home a few days later to discover the tragedy.

Too many times, the criminals will be connected to another crime they have committed and escape from the law again to start a new life as innocent labourers in another place.

“I will kill and disappear in the city” is one of the common threats those in the towns make.

A few years back, my relatives who lived across the street from my father’s house hired a senior guard who presented himself as a priest unwelcomed by other monks at a monastery. He claimed to continue his priesthood but decided to work and support himself. He worked with them for years. But the man was often angry and unfriendly, isolating himself from others.

One day, when my relatives were renovating their house, a construction worker who used to know the man recognised him. He shouted at the man, “family killer.” My relatives, confused, tried to silence the construction worker who was grabbing neighbours' attention. They later handed over the case to the police. Weeks later, a police officer told them that their hired guard of years was a fugitive who had killed a family of five outside of Addis Abeba.

There was also another incident in the neighbourhood; a brutal crime committed in broad daylight. A housemaid and the guard of a woman who lived alone and often travelled abroad for work reasons conspired to kill her, steal her belongings and move out of the capital.

On the day they planned to carry out the crime, the woman had a change of plans and took off on another trip. The guard blamed this on the maid, took her life and stole house belongings before he fled. Suspecting neighbours called the police. When the gate was broken in, the police found a pool of blood and a dismembered body. The police captured the man on the same day as he was trying to leave Addis Abeba for a nearby town. This was his second murder, the police later discovered.

The capital city and regional states’ police lack coordination, while corruption opens doors for criminals to escape from one town or city to another. This has increased the number of cold cases in the country and encouraged criminals to commit more crime, hoping to get away with it just like they did before.

Many men and women lurk in people’s lives to kill and rob, taking advantage of unassuming employers. They take away precious human life for staggering reasons. Families these days are opting to drastically change their lives, sacrificing their careers to ensure their family’s safety because the risk of bringing a stranger home is too significant.

Given that housework, such as for maids and hired guards, is highly informal, there is no way of checking the backgrounds of the employees, and thus people take a leap of faith. Sometimes it works as few end up with good ones whom they will consider as family. When the opposite happens, it will bring grief not only to the families but to the nation as well.

PUBLISHED ON Sep 10,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1167]

Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at edensah2000@gmail.com.

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