Vavi 'sexual advances' allegation settled as a 'misunderstanding' - Saftu

2018-09-29 09:05
Zwelinzima Vavi. (Supplied)

Zwelinzima Vavi. (Supplied)

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A sex allegation which a Numsa employee levelled against SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, has been settled as a misunderstanding, the breakaway union federation said in a statement on Friday.

"For the record, it is true that a [National Union of Metalworkers of SA] staff member expressed her discomfort and made allegations that the Saftu general secretary made unwanted sexual advances and/or handled her inappropriately," a statement said.

"The allegations were made during September 2017. On the same day these allegations were brought to the attention of the Saftu national office bearers, they acted swiftly."  

Numsa and Saftu gave the complainant a chance to "express herself" and say how she wanted the matter handled and Vavi was also asked separately for his version.

"He denied the allegations," according to the statement sent by Vavi, Numsa secretary general Irvin Jim and spokesperson Patrick Craven. 

They said the woman asked for a formal apology from Vavi because she wanted it settled informally and kept confidential.

"To this end, both parties agreed in writing that there had been a misunderstanding between themselves." 

The statement said the woman accepted this and stated twice that she did not want to take the matter any further.

The three said that a complainant was entitled to determine the process in such a case and to decide if the matter was settled to satisfaction.

According to an amaBhungane report in the Mail & Guardian, the first incident was said to have taken place on Tuesday, September 29 last year, in quiet Saftu offices.

Vavi is alleged to have made unwanted, inappropriate advances towards the woman including physical harassment, which resulted in him putting his arms around the woman and trying to kiss her. 

The paper said a second incident occurred that very Friday, when Vavi is said to have cornered and groped her when offering her a massage and pushing her onto a sofa. 

'In our view, justice was served'

The Sowetan spoke to a source who said the woman complained that Vavi would arrive early at the office and allegedly ask her to massage his legs and feet.

On Friday News24 reported that Vavi had strongly rejected allegations, describing it as "completely baseless".

Read: Vavi rejects allegations following report on new sexual harassment claims

"Saftu is satisfied that this matter was handled fairly, with the best interests of the complainant at the heart of the chosen process. In our view, justice was served," the statement said.

The Union added that Saftu did not want to contradict its commitment to demanding strong action, particularly in cases involving senior leadership and management, to send a strong message that sexual harassment and gender violence would not be tolerated.

Vavi told the Sowetan that the allegations had been revived for "obvious reasons". He did not state what the reasons were. AmaBhungane reported that sources had said there had been a breakdown in the relationship between Vavi and Jim. 

Friday's statement from Saftu denied this. 

"Those planting this poison in both Saftu and Numsa are deliberately trying to drive a wedge between leaders of our federation. They will not succeed."

In 2013, News24 reported that a woman had withdrawn a rape accusation against Vavi, who was general secretary of trade union federation Cosatu at the time.

The woman, who was a Cosatu employee, accused Vavi of rape, but Vavi claimed that the two were having an affair and that he was the victim of a political conspiracy.

The woman then withdrew the rape charges. 

Read more: Vavi rape accuser withdraws 'grievance'

Read more on:    saftu  |  numsa  |  zwelinzima vavi

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