Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition)

City accused of not taking action against acts of ‘abuse and racism’

- BULELWA PAYI bulelwa.payi@inl.co.za

THE City of Cape Town has been accused of “failing to act decisively” to protect two female employees.

A male manager allegedly called a female employee the K-word while another allegedly used violence against a female subordinat­e.

The South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) has expressed dismay over the alleged incidents.

“Regarding the two incidents, the City seems to be hesitant to take decisive action against gender-based violence (GBV) and racism despite what it professes to stand for”, said union provincial organiser, Hlalanathi Gagayi.

The union said it wrote to the office of the city manager, Lungelo Mbandazayo, at the beginning of August after it learnt of the woman who was allegedly “manhandled at work”.

The male manager allegedly grabbed the female subordinat­e by her arm and pushed her out of his office on 17 April 2023 at the Vanguard electricit­y depot. “The male manager was cleared of any wrongdoing after a disciplina­ry hearing led by other male managers. “Instead of focusing on the incident and the use of force against the female employee, the hearing turned into an interrogat­ion of the woman as an attempt to discredit her,” said Gagayi.

A voice recording of the hearing allegedly revealed the employee was asked several times if she would be willing to move to another department or find a way to work with her superior.

Gagayi said the union appealed to Mbandazayo to “hold accountabl­e” all those “who seem to have covered up the issue and took a decision favouring the male manager”. However, no action was taken and the union then appealed to Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis to intervene who referred the matter back to Mbandazayo.

In another incident, a female employee was allegedly referred to as a “k ***** ” by a male manager at the Maitland Recreation & Parks depot.

According to Gagayi, the City believed that “counsellin­g”of the male manager would suffice. After the union’s insistence, the in March to formally manager.

Regarding the employee who laid charges of manhandlin­g, City spokespers­on Luthando Tyhalibong­o said the chairperso­n of the disciplina­ry committee found that the charges against the line manager were “not proven” and he was found not guilty.

He said after the line manager was found not guilty, the employee was given counsel to transfer to another section by the chairperso­n of the disciplina­ry hearing “due to the strained relationsh­ip between the employee and the line manager.”

He would not say whether the advice to transfer to another department was offered to the line manager.

City agreed charge the

The recording of the disciplina­ry hearing also allegedly contained repeated suggestion­s of a transfer to the female employee.

“The City considers this matter closed,” said Tyhalibong­o.

“The disciplina­ry process is currently in process and under judicial review.

“Therefore no further comment can be made on the merits of the case whilst the case is in progress,” he said.

Gagayi said: “The matter of the K-word was referred to the city manager’s office and the mayor’s office before but without any response. Employers in our country should not second guess or hesitate to take action against the use of a derogatory K-word,” said Gagayi.

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