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Staffers vent fury at alleged sex pest

Johannesburg - Joburg Social Development employees took to the streets on Wednesday to protest against alleged misconduct by senior management.

Labour union Nehawu led a march in the Joburg CBD, demanding the dismissal of acting director Phumo Themeli and head of department Solly Ndweni.

Joburg regional Social Development employees picket outside their head office in the CBD to deliver a memorandum of demands, including allegations of sexual misconduct and nepotism against a senior official. Photo: Bongiwe Mchunu. Credit: THE STAR

Chief director of corporate services, advocate Siphokazi Moleshe, accepted a memorandum from the protesters.

Screaming and dancing employees accused Themeli - who was not present - of being a sex pest in the office.

The employees held placards alleging sexual harassment and other serious accusations of a sexual nature.

One, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, told The Star an office cleaner and other traumatised women colleagues alleged that Themeli was abusing his position and was making inappropriate sexual advances against his colleagues, among other things.

The official said: “The department employed an investigator. He conducted his research but no feedback on the report was given to the staff.”

Social Development staff members are accusing the department of condoning Themeli’s behaviour by not taking action against him.

Themeli refused to comment, directing questions to head of communication Sello Mokoena.

Mokoena confirmed the department had employed an external investigator. The investigation had probed the rape accusation and the sexual harassment allegation, and absolved Themeli. “During the investigation, people did not come forward, which weakened the case. People would not pitch up for hearings.”

Mokoena said they would ask employees to come out and support the process.

The Nehawu official said: “He is in a position of power, and female colleagues need to ask him for resources. When a new female employee asked for a phone he would first hit on her.”

Nehawu regional chairman Lulamile Sibanda said employees would go on strike if the MEC did not respond to the demands within seven days.

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