On the 1st of July 2002 a domestic worker was killed by two pit bull dogs in the home where she worked, a small town called Brakpan, in the east of Johannesburg. This poem honours her story. I wrote it soon after the news broke.
They knew not her name,
they knew not from whence she came.
She worked for them
in their very home.
A domestic worker,
sleeping in the backyard,
the familiar servants’ quarters.
When she dared walk in the garden
two pit bulls ripped her apart,
sent her to her death.
A member of the public
killed the two dogs out of rage.
The dog owners,
home owners, white, employers,
knew not her name,
from whence she came
who worked for four months in their home.
She was just a
domestic worker, black,
in a backyard in Brakpan.
Now she lies in a mortuary.
Her dog bite-riddled body can’t be claimed.
Her employers assert unashamedly that
the dogs bit her because, they too, did not know her,
because she had never walked in the garden.
She was merely a body, a black body,
in a backyard in Brakpan, in the year 2002.
from these hands (Timbila, 2005), © Khosi Xaba 2005, used by permission of the author.