Sexual harrassment cases at the SABC swept under the carpet - commission

2018-11-06 15:58

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The SABC does not take sexual harassment seriously and needs to develop a culture that embraces the enhancement of human rights and gender rights.

These are just some of the recommendations made by an independent commission of inquiry looking into allegations of sexual harassment at the public broadcaster. 

The commission found that the SABC was complicit in some cases, accusing the broadcaster of being oblivious to infringements of its sexual harassment policies.

The commission chaired by Barbara Watson revealed that that the public broadcaster's sexual harassment policies did not meet international standards, and needed to be reviewed.

"It is disturbing that none of the cases which have been reported have had the perpetrator being held to account," Watson said on Tuesday at the SABC's headquarters in Auckland Park. 

Some forced to resign

While drying her eyes, Watson elaborated that some of the victims had been forced to resign, while their harassers remained in their posts. She added that "... a couple divorced, seemingly because of this".

She said the findings relating to the cases required that disciplinary proceedings be restarted and that there should be observations from gender and equality experts who are monitoring the implementation of her report.

Mfanozelwe Shozi, also from the commission, told the media that some alleged victims didn't speak out for fear of losing their jobs. He added that it was "safe to conclude that some of those implicated were managers in positions of power".

He said the SABC was seemingly unable to deal with gender-based violence cases, and urged it to review its policies.

Fate of freelancers

The commission said it was disturbing that the fate of freelancers at the broadcaster lay solely with line managers, and that this made the environment prone to sexual harassment.

One of the recommendations is that there be an urgent review of the appointment and dismissal of freelancers.

ALSO READ: SABC commissions of inquiry to probe 'jobs for sex', interference in news

It was also found that a strong perception existed that HR and senior managers colluded with, and covered up for, alleged perpetrators, and that most senior managers demonstrated a serious lack of knowledge and understanding of human rights statutes, gender relations and issues of power relations between men and women. The commission said that, in the process, the SABC had been complicit in the violation of the rights of employees.

Watson said almost all cases are more than five years old, and "yet complainants still carried the pain and hope that one day they will see justice done for them". She said most cases reported came from Lotus FM and Channel Africa.

"There is a worrying history of gender-based violence cases from Lotus FM, indicating a need for strong leadership which appears weak," she said. 

Recommendations 

Some of the commission's other recommendations are that the SABC hold diversity management workshops to assist employees, and establish a structure outside HR that will implement recommendations of the commission's report.

It was also recommended that there be gender desks or gender focal points within the broadcaster that victims can easily access.

The commission also said that, while implementing the recommendations, the SABC should provide a budget and other resources for the effective and full implementation of the sexual assault policies.

SABC Group Chief Executive Officer Madoda Mxakwe committed to implementing the recommendations.

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Read more on:    sabc  |  sexual harassment

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