At the height of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children Campaign, non-profit organisation Sonke Gender Justice has suspended a staff member implicated in sexual offence allegations.
In a statement, Sonke Gender Justice said: “Sonke has noted allegations of one of its staff members who is alleged to have committed a sexual offence against a young woman in the Western Cape.
“Sonke Gender Justice views this matter in a serious light and has suspended the staff member with immediate effect while it investigates and will ensure that the individual is held accountable for the (alleged) crime.”
According to the organisation, the allegations were in violation of its policies and undermined its commitment to end the scourge of violence against women.
“We trust that the criminal justice system will deal with this matter and ensure that justice is done. As an organisation, we will also reach out and offer the necessary support to the victim and her family.”
Sonke Gender Justice co-executive director and co-chairperson of Global MenEngage Alliance Bafana Khumalo added that they were not aware if a formal case had been opened yet.
“We have taken action organisationally and will await other processes from the relevant authorities,” Khumalo said.
Activist against gender-based violence, Reverend June Dolley-Major said Sonke Gender Justice needed to suspend the employee, as the organisation should lead by example. “They made the right choice to suspend until the outcome of further investigation. I hope they take it further because they are an organisation at the forefront fighting gender-based violence, focusing on the men in particular, so one of their staff members being accused is a serious matter,” she said.
The Commission for Gender Equality (GCE) applauded Sonke Gender Justice for its swift action.
“We applaud Sonke for its expeditious response to the matter, and we hope that through its internal processes, the matter will be addressed and affirm zero tolerance,” GCE spokesperson Javu Baloyi said.
This as the scourge of violence against women and children in South Africa continues unabated, with the second quarter crime statistics 2023/2024 announced by Police Minister Bheki Cele last month showing that between July and September 2023 a total of 1 514 incidents of attempted murder against women were reported.
Women were victims in 14 401 assault with grievous bodily harm (GBH) incidents reported to the police during the same period.