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Senior official suspended over sex harassment claims

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“The charges relate to serious allegations of misconduct relating to sexual harassment”

A SENIOR official at the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature (NCPL) has been placed on precautionary suspension, pending the finalisation of a disciplinary process into allegations of sexual harassment.

The matter was reported in November 2019 by the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) regarding allegations of verbal sexual innuendos and insults of a sexual nature that were made against female staff members.

The staff members were apparently overloaded with additional work and subjected to disciplinary procedures if they rejected the sexual advances.

The union on Friday welcomed the disciplinary steps taken against the official but pointed out that it had taken three months before any action was taken.

“The official still has full access to his tools of trade, including his laptop, cellphone, office keys and passwords. This official has been placed on suspension with full pay while the affected staff members were still expected to interact with him in the office prior to his precautionary suspension.”

The manager of public education and communications at the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature, Carmen Gopane, stated that the senior official was placed on precautionary suspension with effect from March 11.

“The charges relate to serious allegations of misconduct relating to sexual harassment,” said Gopane.

She indicated that the official was required to hand over all tools of trade to the institution, with the exception of the official’s cellphone.

“All the necessary passwords and access codes have been revoked and the official does not have any access or authority to access any of the institution’s systems.”

Gopane added that the official was placed on precautionary suspension with full remuneration, in accordance with regulations.

“If an employee is suspended as a precautionary measure, the employer must hold a disciplinary hearing within two months. During the disciplinary proceedings, the employee will remain on suspension until the finalisation of the disciplinary process including the appeal process.”

She said the disciplinary hearing would be completed within the prescribed period, stipulated in the disciplinary policy.

“The Northern Cape Provincial Legislature requests that the privacy of the senior official and parties concerned and the confidentiality of the employer-employee relationship be respected. The Northern Cape Provincial Legislature will not comment further on the matter until it is concluded.”