Women picket over ‘harasser’

2010-01-09 00:00

SISONKE District Municipality was forced to make do without the services of its female staffers yesterday.

The women instead spent the greater part of the day picketing outside the municipal offices against the manner in which the municipality handled an alleged harassment claim.

According to sources who spoke to Weekend Witness on condition of anonymity, a senior municipal director allegedly harassed his female personal assistant (PA) in late December and she ran out of the building in a hysterical state.

“The female employees picketed the next day and the man was suspended,” a municipal employee alleged.

On Thursday, the municipality’s executive committee (Exco) convened their first formal sitting for the year and took a decision not to suspend the director as there was no evidence to back up the PA’s claims, sources alleged.

Following the committee’s decision, all female municipal workers had a meeting in the boardroom where they resolved to demonstrate outside the municipal offices yesterday in the hope that the municipality would reverse their decision, said sources.

“We’re not going to work because we can’t stand this,” one of the female employees said.

Sources told Weekend Witness that the PA was in such a state of shock after her ordeal that she had to seek trauma counselling.

The PA told Weekend Witness she wanted to make it clear she was not subjected to sexual harassment, but would not say what was done to her.

“That’s all I’m willing to say,” she said.

District Mayor Patrick Khoza confirmed the picket, but said they were powerless to interfere as doing so would mean they were contravening the Labour Relations Act.

He said the director in question was on duty, but at Thursday’s meeting Exco resolved to place him on special leave so that the allegations could be investigated.

“Contact [municipal manager Nhlanhla Mabaso] and he’ll give you a full statement,” said Khoza.

When Weekend Witness contacted Mabaso, he said: “Call me back after 30 minutes”. However, he failed to pick up the subsequent call and did not respond to the message left on his voicemail.





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