Pan African Congress (PAC) and union leader Narius Moloto is at the centre of a sexual harassment scandal after a 23-year-old woman alleged that he sent her pornographic messages and solicited sex from her in exchange for a permanent job.
The woman works at the Building Construction and Allied Workers Union (Bcawu), of which Moloto is the general secretary.
The woman, who graduated from Pretoria University with an international relations degree, started working at the union two years ago as a gender coordinator. According to her friend, she is a distant relative of Moloto and a job was created for her at the union after her grandmother called in a favour from him.
Within two months of starting work, alleges the source, Moloto began making “inappropriate advances” and sexual overtures to her, and when she reported this to the union’s national executive committee earlier this year, it was she who was suspended.
Now she has lodged a case of sexual harassment and unfair dismissal before the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). She has also lodged a complaint against Moloto with the Commission for Gender Equality.
This week Moloto “strongly denied” the allegations that he demanded sexual favours in exchange for a permanent contract. Asked about the pornographic texts which City Press has seen, he said his phone had a “virus that sent embarrassing messages to a lot of people”.
The source told City Press that the woman’s woes began when Moloto asked her to come into the office over the festive season in 2016, when the union was closed.
“On December 29 he said he wanted an urgent condolence letter typed up that morning. When she got there he hadn’t done anything, there wasn’t even a draft. So she asked where the letter was and he said, ‘No relax, be calm. Let me just get to know you first,’ ” said the source.
“He asked about her family relations. He asked her what her horoscope was; she told him. He said Scorpios are naturally stubborn. Then he asked questions about her sex life, who she slept with, if she had a kid. Then he asked more intimate questions like if her sexual partners satisfied her. She told him the conversation was making her uncomfortable, and he said, ‘Oh, you’re one of those. Soon you’ll adapt into the environment.’ ”
After serving her probationary period, the young woman asked if she could earn a “market-related salary”, according to the friend.
“He said there were certain things she needed to do before she got a contract. So to this day, she doesn’t have a contract but she was getting paid,” she alleged.
“She asked that she gets the new salary in the meantime while they work on a contract, and he said no, we should first have what he called strategic meetings outside of the office whereby there aren’t other colleagues but just the two of them, and she couldn’t tell anyone about the meetings.”
The source alleged the young woman raised her concerns about the “strategic meetings” and her gut told her not to attend them.
Screenshots of WhatsApp messages in which Moloto allegedly scheduled the “strategic meetings” say “I’m testing your ability to keep things to yourself.”
Then the pornographic texts started coming in, said the source.
“The first was of a lady in a G-string. Then when she’d be in his office he’d ask to hug her and she couldn’t understand why, or if they were together in the lift, he’d force a hug,” she alleged.
“Then it got to him threatening her job, saying he was doing her a favour by giving her a job because he felt sorry for her grandmother. Then she started being hostile and he said ‘If you continue refusing advances they will be withdrawn from the table’ and that this ‘wouldn’t end in a piecemeal’. She didn’t understand what that meant.”
After he allegedly became more hostile, the woman approached the CCMA for advice in June and was advised to raise an internal grievance.
“On July 10, [Moloto] sent her a message reprimanding her about not doing her job and saying that he was considering moving her to another department,” she claimed. “He called her in front of three other colleagues and started shouting at her.” She then filed a comprehensive grievance and was called to a meeting by two members of the union’s executive.
“They asked her why she didn’t approach them with her issues before writing a grievance,” she alleged.
Two months ago she was suspended. Last month, she was shocked to learn that she had also been charged with refusing to take lawful instructions, dishonesty, and having multiple sexual relationships with shop stewards.
Moloto said his accuser had a personal vendetta against him, had vowed to “destroy” him, and was making false allegations because she was bitter about not being chosen to go on a trip to Kenya.
In an official statement, the union said there was no evidence to support the woman’s allegations.
“She has opted to simply make allegations without proof as a way to tarnish the image of the union and Mr Moloto. She herself has a well-documented history of promiscuity within the trade union movement, involving sexual relations with multiple partners, including at least one married man, which makes her completely unsuitable for any role involving gender relations,” the union said.
“To be clear on the charges of sexual harassment: pornographic images infected the Bcawu WhatsApp group chat and were disseminated from Mr Moloto’s phone without his knowledge or consent. This was brought to Mr Moloto’s attention by several people.
“Mr Moloto was hugely embarrassed as he had no knowledge of how this content infected his phone. The bug was immediately identified and removed.”