File photo: ANA/Karen Sandison
File photo: ANA/Karen Sandison

'I experienced sexual harassment, racism first-hand': Ex-SABC worker’s job ordeal

By Kenneth Mokgatlhe Time of article published Dec 8, 2019

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AN EX-SABC employee who resigned in 2007 alleging sexual harassment by her boss wants her job back if she does not win compensation for her ordeal.

The former occupational health officer at Radio Park testified before an SABC Sexual Harassment Inquiry which presented its findings and recommendations to the board on October 31 last year.

The commission, chaired by Barbara Watson, was established in June last year together with another which focused on political and management interference in news decisions.

“I experienced sexual harassment and racism first-hand. I just want the SABC to compensate me for what I went through,” said the distraught former employee, who added she would like her job back if unsuccessful.

A year later, the public broadcaster has not honoured recommendations made by the commission which completed and presented its work to the board in October 2018.

Acting spokesperson Mmoni Seapolelo said: “The SABC has accepted the recommendations of the sexual harassment inquiry.

“While most of the recommendations have been implemented, the SABC is exploring suitable avenues to implement the remaining recommendations to ensure compliance with internal governance processes.”

The commission was adamant in its final report that the victim provided sufficient details to prove she had been forced to resign due to intolerable circumstances.

“The commission recommends that the SABC should find a way to correct the wrong done to the victim,” read the commission’s report.

According to sources and internal communications, the victim’s ex-boss did not give evidence at the commission. He was dismissed on September 30, this year, after the disciplinary hearing found that he had failed to demonstrate any remorse.

The SABC revealed yesterday that the alleged perpetrator referred a dispute to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration. The SABC could not be drawn to comment further on the case as it is sub judice.

The victim worked for the SAPS before joining the SABC in 2006. Her health started deteriorating and she alleges it was the “toxic” environment which led to the development of her health struggles.

The victim testified at the commission on her ordeal at Auckland Park, and she said that her manager gave her unusually long hugs, which she had ignored at the time.

“He then commented on my perfume, stating that it smelled sexy and that he wished they were sharing an office,” testified the victim.

The Sunday Independent can reveal that the victim was admitted last Sunday to a Joburg private clinic due to her deteriorating mental health since her employment at the SABC. She is still hospitalised.

She said: “My mother is a retired nurse. She is the one paying these expensive medical fees which cost around R3000 a month. My kids are staying around Gauteng and don’t want to go back home in Limpopo because their lives are here. It’s hard on me but my mother has been using her pension allowances to help all of us.

“I lost all my possessions, including my marriage, due to the toxic environment at the SABC. When my kids call me to let me know they have passed at school, it hurt me because I am supposed to be home with them rejoicing together but I am at hospital.”

According to internal documents, the victim did not have health issues until her employment at the public broadcaster. She was hospitalised after experiencing anxiety attacks and shortness of breath.

“The perpetrator’s actions and victimisation of the victim have seriously disrupted her life, career and future. It also caused chronic medical conditions, loss of income, immense suffering of her family, humiliation and a loss of dignity for herself and her entire family, ” read the commission’s report.

Sunday Independent

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