Cape Town - A DA MP has been accused of sexual harassment, after he allegedly forced a DA staffer to touch his “private parts” during a heated protest march in Cape Town, before President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address.
The woman, who works at the party’s offices in Cape Town, officially laid a complaint against the MP last week.
The woman, a mother of two, who cannot be named, claimed that the man “took my hand and put it on his privates” during the march - moments before police dispersed the crowd using water cannon.
James Selfe, chairman of the DA Federal Council, confirmed that a complaint had been received from a staff member.
“The complaint will be investigated. The investigation will be referred to the Federal Legal Commission for any disciplinary steps that need to be taken.”
Responding to the claims, the MP told the Cape Argus he could not comment at this stage because he was not aware of the complaint being lodged against him. “I’ve heard these rumours from some of the members, but I’ll wait for the notification from the party to inform me about the formal charges being laid against me.”
The 56-year old added that he had never been accused of any such act, and had no knowledge of the incident or the complaint.
A senior source in the party said three other co-workers gave supporting affidavits last week in support of the woman’s claims.
Friends and supporters of the MP, a deputy shadow minister in the National Assembly, described him as a “funny but up-standing” guy.
“He has a unique sense of humour, which can easily be misconstrued,” a friend said.
But those close to the victim said she was a dedicated worker in a senior position within the party who would not make up stories. One such friend said the MP had asked one of the woman’s staff members to call her during the march, but she refused to go, saying she was busy with the picket and could not speak to him at the time.
“He then came up behind her, calling her by her name and demanded to know why she did not respond when he called her. When she told him she was busy with a picket, he grabbed her hand and put it on his private parts saying ‘picket here’.”
According to the friend, the MP also grabbed the woman’s other hand trying to pull her out of the crowd and when she told him not to do it, he said: “Why not?”
When contacted for comment, the woman said she did not want to go into details of the events, merely saying: “He did that on purpose, it was no accident. He had no right to do that and I told him as much before reporting the matter to the party.”
Confirming that she immediately reported the matter to her superiors, the woman said she had no hidden agenda and had laid an official complaint against the MP.
Co-workers said the woman immediately went back to her office after the incident, upset about what had happened.
“She has a high-profile job in the party and decided on her own to report the matter to the party,” a friend said.
DA insiders described the woman as “emotionally affected” by the incident.
Asked whether she would lay criminal charges, the woman said she was thinking about it.
“I don’t know. I reported him and made my statement, but I don’t know if I am going to lay a charge against him.”
* IOL has closed comments on this story to prevent speculation about the identities of the people involved.