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Call to review sexual harassment case in court

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Union wants case re-instated.

Gender-based violence includes abuse by an intimate partner, domestic abuse, child abuse, sexual violence and harassment, and violence towards members of the LGBTIQ community. Most, but not all, victims are women and girls, statistics show.

THE NATIONAL Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) has called for a plea agreement that was entered into involving a sexual harassment case that was lodged against a senior financial officer to be rescinded and the sanction regarding a sexual harassment case against a security manager to be reviewed in the Labour Court.

Nehawu branch secretary Mpho Merriman stated that disciplinary measures against the officials, both employed at the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature, should continue.

“The officials are enjoying political protection. Sexual harassment is the most heinous misconduct in the workplace. This conduct is not only demeaning but undermines the dignity, integrity and self-worth of the person. Sexual harassment in all its forms undermines the morale and adversely affects the ability of employees to achieve their full potential.”

Merriman claimed that when the incidents were reported in 2019, the complainants were humiliated in front of the entire workforce.

“They were accused of concocting the allegations and tarnishing the name of the financial officer. It was evident that the Speaker were among the officials who firmly believed that the ‘golden boy’, who is in a position of power, could and would never do something as loathsome as sexually harass someone else.”

She added that after the matter was reported and numerous interventions were sought to ensure that the matter was handled in a fair manner.

“The matter was met with silence. The Speaker’s silence regarding violence against vulnerable women is deafening.”

The union also called for the sanction that was given to a security manager who faced an allegation of sexual harassment, to be reviewed in the Labour Court.”

Spokesperson for the Office of the Speaker, Mpho Masina, stated that the Speaker had already made a commitment to the union to address all concerns raised.

“The frustration expressed by Nehawu is highly regrettable and understandably so, since the matter at hand is of a sensitive and serious nature. However proper procedures must be followed, and thus this may require patience from all parties involved.

“The Speaker, Newrene Klaaste, understands the frustrations experienced by all parties involved. The accusations regarding of victims’ humiliation and disregard for any form of gender-based violence is highly malicious and will not assist the process.”