EMS official 'let off' sex pest charges

By Natasha Prince

One of several women who accused a senior official at the Emergency Medical Service's (EMS) ambulance division of sexual harassment said she was too afraid to return to work because the case had not been properly investigated.

The official was accused of preying on women by insisting that they sleep with him in return for securing positions in the ambulance service.

The female staff member, who declined to be identified, said she would not return to work until the senior official had been taken to task.

She was not satisfied because the Health Department had not formally explained why the official had been "let off the hook".

Health Department spokesperson Faiza Steyn said there had been no corroborating evidence from witnesses to support the allegation of sexual harassment after the matter had been "fully investigated".

"We regard the matter as closed," Steyn said.

But internal sources have told the Cape Argus the matter has caused unhappiness among EMS staff.

Many were angry that the official had not been suspended while the allegations were being investigated as had happened in other cases.

A staff member from the EMS's Paarl branch, who was suspended because of sexual harassment allegations, also lodged a complaint with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) asking why the official had not been suspended and why no formal investigation was taking place.

The Cape Argus is in possession of letters submitted to EMS management and the HPCSA on the official's actions.

The official had registered to be nominated for the Western Cape HPCSA's board of directorates.

The Health Department said earlier an "independent government employee" had been appointed to investigate, but did not say why the official had not been suspended.

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