A former Dwarsrivier Prison employee has won a damages claim following her arguing that she was sexually assaulted by a man on duty with her. File photo: Pexels
Cape Town - A former Dwarsrivier Prison employee has won a damages claim following her arguing that she was sexually assaulted by a man on duty with her at the Ceres institution in 2009.

Western Cape High Court Judge Judith Cloete has ordered the man and Minister of Correctional Services to cough-up.

According to the judgment, handed down on Monday, the woman first came in contact with her colleague in 2008.

For most of her tenure she was the only social worker permanently employed at the prison, which had a population of about 300 male-only offenders

At the time of the incident the woman and her male co-worker occupied offices about 20 paces from each other, in the same corridor, although at opposite ends.

One morning he approached her in her office to get a key to another office, as he apparently had problems with his emails.

When she remembered that he had not returned the key, which she needed, she knocked on his door.

She picked the key up from his desk but as she was leaving he called her back.

She closed the door, assuming that he wanted to discuss an altercation which happened earlier in the morning.

According to the judgment, she took a seat across from his desk and he handed her a pamphlet of a restorative justice programme.

After asking after her young daughter, the colleague told her that he had dreamt about her as a man dreams about a woman.

Uncomfortable, she got up to leave, and he came around from behind his desk and stood between her and the door.

As she tried to pass, he grabbed her with both arms around her waist, pinning down her arms and putting his hands on her bottom, the judgment read.

He kissed her, trying to force his tongue into her mouth, she said.

At the same time he was pushing his lower body against hers.

She managed to wriggle free and fled in the direction of her office.

In addition to the internal disciplinary proceedings, the man was convicted in the magistrate’s court on April 14, 2011 on one count of sexual assault and was sentenced to a fine of R600, or 12 days imprisonment.

Despite maintaining his innocence and being granted leave to appeal his conviction by the magistrate, he did not pursue any appeal.

The Department of Correctional Services did not respond to requests for comment by deadline.

Cape Times