Sex assaults plague SABC
HR found to bend rules to shield perpetrators
Female employees at the SABC have been subjected to incidents of sexual harassment for years, with some reporting them, but no one has been held accountable. This was revealed in a report released by an internal inquiry into sexual harassment at the public broadcaster yesterday. A total of 10 cases were lodged by victims. Seven were lodged by whistleblowers and 11 alleged perpetrators were interviewed.
In one of the incidents in KwaZulu-Natal, a female employee was sexually harassed in the presence of others. She reported the incident to the human resources (HR) unit to investigate. Instead of bringing the alleged perpetrator to account, HR processed the complaint informally and there was no conclusion of the matter. “At the time of our commission, the complainant did not come forward, never even responded to our e-mails,” said former commission for gender equality chairperson Mfanozelwe Shozi, who was part of the investigations. “When we investigated, we unearthed that she had been given a position at a particular station by the alleged perpetrator, and therefore, in our view, they were now corroborating on this.
“In this regard, we feel that the SABC sexual harassment policy was not followed by HR. We are saying that the SABC should investigate,” said Shozi. “On issues of sexual harassment, HR and managers would have an informal hearing and the complainant would not be informed of the outcome. [They] opted to deliberately not follow the policy.” In another case in Bloemfontein, a female employee was asked to touch a colleague’s erect penis.
“The victim was livid and did not report it as she thought she could handle it. The refusal to do all this led to the perpetrator being nasty and hostile towards her,” Shozi said. The SABC instituted an inquiry into sexual harassment after it was requested by its television section. However, most of the cases of sexual harassment were found to be taking place in the radio side of the public broadcaster. Shozi said employees told the commission that sometimes when they reported incidents they would be told “don’t worry, it happened to me, you are gonna be alright”. Shozi said there was weak leadership at the stations where the incidents happened. “Everybody was doing what they liked. There are even reports in one of the books of a former employee being raped at the SABC.”
The commission made recommendations on each individual case and proposed that the SABC fix problems at its human resources division. SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe said the board has adopted the report and will implement the recommendations. The commission was chaired by gender activist Barbara Watson.
‘‘ Don’t worry, it happened to me, you are gonna be alright
An SABC internal inquiry reveals history of sexual harassment of female employees.