Sex and lies at Freedom Park

2013-11-10 14:00

Drama continues to unfold since sexual harassment accusations against CEO

“Please help us. Freedom Park is not free!” This is the plea from staff at one of South Africa’s richest cultural sites, a Pretoria memorial to the liberation struggle.

Over the past two weeks, City Press has spoken at length with almost a dozen current and former staff members.

They related the drama that continues to unfold at the monument since sexual harassment accusations were levelled against CEO Fana Jiyane by fundraising officer Peggy Dube in August 2012.

They do not want their names published because they fear victimisation.

They have been strictly prohibited from speaking to the media and management has, they say, tried repeatedly to stem the leaks.

Jiyane referred all questions to the chairperson of the Freedom Park council, through whom he denied any sexual harassment allegations.

The Dube matter is being investigated by the Public Protector, who is also investigating sexual harassment claims by Jiyane’s PA in his previous position as CEO of the Cradle of Humankind.

City Press has learnt that:

» An expensive new investigation into Dube’s sexual harassment claims has cleared the CEO after an earlier report recommended he face disciplinary action;

» The Public Protector will subpoena the first report – which has been requested but not received – and will also subpoena the Freedom Park council;

» Three staff members were suspended for questioning the CEO in a staff meeting, including asking about his relationships with two female staff members; and

» He is facing two civil cases of defamation – one from Dube and one from a dismissed staff member – and Freedom Park is paying for his defence.

At Freedom Park, Jiyane attracts such loathing that a junior staff member said: “He is a contender for worst boss in South Africa. Freedom Park is in chains.”

“It’s not Freedom Park; it’s a one-man show. It’s Jiyane Park. In fact, it’s Animal Farm,” said a manager.

In the past year, the monthly staff meetings at Freedom Park have become a battlefield, said the staff.

“I will crush you” and “You won’t know what hit you” are some of the phrases the staff members interviewed recalled the scripture- and philosophy-quoting Jiyane using.

They say he has frequently told staff they shouldn’t worry about him losing his job as he was well connected and had people who would “look after me”.

Jiyane denies making any of these statements.

Read: Oppression at Freedom Park 

» Talk to us: What should the minister of arts and culture do about the allegations swirling around Freedom Park's CEO?

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