WHEN Jabu Gabela-Mangena dropped out of school as a teenager, she had no option but to work as a helper.

The 48-year-old told Daily Sun her dad didn’t believe a girl child should go to school as long as she could read and write.

“It’s my boss’ car, but I drive it like my own when I am free and he doesn’t mind,”

“I dropped out of school in grade 10 when I was 18 years. I’ve been a helper for 30 years. I’ve worked for five different families so far.

“My duties were cleaning, cooking, washing, taking care of the kids and most importantly making them happy,” said Jabu.

She currently works for the Lawrence family in Fourways, north of Joburg.

She has been working there for 16 years.

Jabu Gabela Mangena dropped out from school as a teenager, she had no option but to work as a domestic worker. Photo by Noko Mashilo Photo by

Jabu Gabela Mangena dropped out from school as a teenager, she had no option but to work as a domestic worker. Photo by Noko Mashilo Photo by

“Apart from cleaning and cooking, I’m also their driver,” said Jabu, who drives her boss’ Mercedes-Benz.

“It’s my boss’ car, but I drive it like my own when I am free and he doesn’t mind,” she said.

She said her employers helped her get her driver’s licence 14 years ago.

She said her relationship with the family is incredible.

“I took care of their children and today they’re adults and independent. They also took care of my kids and sent them to school. My first born is a technician, second born is a cop, while the last born is in grade 10,” she said.

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Jabu’s employer Maria (66) said they loved each other.

“She’s an excellent driver too,” she said.

In addition, Jabu is president of Shiellas domestic workers organisation in Gauteng, which has over 200 registered members.

“Shiellas was formed in 2013 and was inspired by Lady D of Khozi FM. She had a call in slot during her show where she asked helpers to talk about their relationship with their employers,” she said.

“We meet once a month and speak about being indoors all the time, recipes, travelling and salaries. We also have support groups that take care of helpers who’re ill or raped and abused by their employers.”

She said they’d celebrate their year-end function on World Aids Day.