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Zambian social worker 'ashamed' of texts sent to woman

By Staff Reporter

Published 16/10/2015

Nhamoinesu Matsvimbo
Nhamoinesu Matsvimbo

A Zambian social worker asked a vulnerable Northern Ireland woman: "Does she look like me", shortly after she gave birth, a tribunal heard.

Nhamoinesu Matsvimbo sent a series of messages to the woman while he was working in the County Antrim community intervention team.

After the birth of the woman's second child he sent her a message stating: "It's good that it's not black." Another asked the young woman: "Does she look like me?"

One message stated: "Oh baby are you stressed? Do you need a massage? Have you taken your meds?"

He also admitted to sending her pictures of himself on holiday as well as a picture of his children.

An anonymous tip-off led to the Northern Ireland Social Care Council investigating Matsvimbo and he was told not to contact the woman or son while the investigation was on-going.

Despite this he left voicemails on the woman's phone pleading with her to delete any other texts or voicemails she had from him as he was worried about losing his job.

Before the investigation concluded he resigned to spare colleagues and the service users any further stress, he told the hearing.

Matthew Corrie, for the Health Professional Council said: "In the period between September 2013 and January 2014 the registrant sent a number of inappropriate messages to Service User A.

"There was an extended period of inappropriate conduct with Service User A."

Matsvimbo, who qualified as a nutritionist in Zimbabwe and has been educated in universities in Zambia, England and Northern Ireland, said the text messages started as "banter" but he was now "ashamed" of what he had done.

He said: "When I first started working with them it was difficult, she had a lot of mistrust for the services working with her and I had to try and utilise different methods to get her on board.

"One of the things I realised was that sometimes I would have to send her text messages to get her to respond as she often did not return calls but did respond to texts.

"After some time I introduced some banter and this seemed to relieve the stress and helped her to engage and we began to communicate using banter. Looking back, I feel bad and embarrassed that I sent such messages to the client. I think about it every day and I feel very ashamed about it. I will regret it for a long time.

"This whole thing has been a paradigm shift for me. I had to explain to my children about what happened and at some point almost every week I have cried."

Mr Matsvimbo told the court that since resigning he has moved and has been working voluntarily for homeless charities and visiting the elderly to provide domiciliary care.

The hearing continues.

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