Baring it all for employment

Ntombifuthi Kubeka had been in the job market for a long time when she applied to be a waitress at a “gentleman’s club”.

After sending in her CV, the Wits alumnus was told about an “extra” requirement: bikini shots “for fitting purposes”. Desperate for work, having recently had a baby, she complied.

But bikini shots became nude shots. Waitresses needed “to be fitted, like models”, she was told. Her desperation overcame her suspicion, so she sent them – along with the passwords for her e-mail, Facebook and Twitter, for a “background check”.

After a month she was still jobless, and she was being blackmailed for the return of her pictures. Kubeka did not pay the fraudster, but is concerned that he still has her pictures. “I suspected fishy behaviour but, I mean, I was desperate, so I had my fiancé take the photos and I sent them.”

After a month she was still jobless, and she was being blackmailed for the return of her pictures
Fortunately, she changed her passwords before they could be used. Much of her interaction with the conman was conducted via e-mail and WhatsApp. She dealt first with a man, who called himself Nkululeko, who later disappeared. She was told he had been in a car accident.

After that, she was contacted by a woman who gave her name as Samantha and told her she had the job. Samantha asked her to work that weekend, but she couldn’t, since she was in Mpumalanga. She had posted her movements on Facebook.

Samantha later told her their clients had sued them, since she’d been unable to find waitresses for the Saturday night, and the business was in jeopardy.

“She said that she knew the evils of business and it came with the territory. Later she asked me about my daughter and told me she had a daughter too. She said that her daughter was sick and she needed money quickly.”

Samantha first asked Kubeka for financial help, but when Kubeka declined, Samantha started blackmailing her. “She called me the next day and said: ‘Well I’m going to sell your pictures whether you like it or not’.”

She told Kubeka that, unless she paid, she would sell the pictures to elderly men, who wouldn’t mind spending money for nude pictures.

The declining economy and the difficulty in securing jobs has left many qualified people desperate for employment. This desperation has made them vulnerable to victimisation and abuse.

According to the South African Bill of Rights: “Everyone has inherent dignity and the right to have their dignity respected and protected.” Requiring personal information such as passwords and naked pictures is an infringement of one’s right to dignity. Chris Webster, a candidate attorney at Andrew Miller & Associates, said there were certain things potential employers were legally allowed to ask for.

“Legally one cannot be required to give naked pictures and passwords of their personal accounts to get a job. Things such as someone’s HIV status, whether or not one is pregnant or plans to start a family: those questions infringe on one’s personal rights and are therefore illegal,” Webster said.

Kubeka had been the victim of a number of criminal offences, he said. “Off the top of my head, there is fraud, sexual harassment, sexual abuse and blackmail, all of which are criminal offenses.”
He said was prudent to look up potential employers before supplying them with personal information, he added.