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Nehawu branch secretary arrested over alleged lewd remarks against Unisa’s Puleng LenkaBula, women staff members

Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of South Africa, Professor Puleng LenkaBula. Picture: Unisa

Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of South Africa, Professor Puleng LenkaBula. Picture: Unisa

Published Jun 22, 2022

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Pretoria - The National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) at Unisa has asked for space to conduct its investigation after its branch secretary was arrested for conspiracy to commit a crime.

Yesterday, the union announced it would be launching an internal investigation looking into statements allegedly made by branch secretary Thembani Baloyi during its ongoing protest action that landed him in hot water with the SA Human Rights Commission.

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The commission reported that it opened an investigation into a leaked audio recording, in which the Unisa principal and vice-chancellor Puleng LenkaBula and other women staff members were threatened with molestation and violence.

The commission said it initiated the investigation following an article published in a national newspaper, which reported Baloyi made lewd and derogatory remarks against the vice-chancellor and women staff while addressing protesting workers affiliated with the union at Unisa's main campus in Pretoria.

The commission said although it accepted that individuals must be given the freedom to form and express opinions without restraint on a wide range of matters, allegations about offensive and controversial expressions could not be condoned.

The union's Ntsako Nombelani said communication regarding the allegations against Baloyi would be communicated through the union's national spokesperson in due course.

Nombelani said Baloyi was with the members on the picket lines yesterday and had not been on the run as speculated in some circles.

He said in the meantime the union wanted to plead for space and time to conduct its own investigations into the allegations levelled against its member as they were yet to ascertain where the alleged audio came from and if it was indeed Baloyi.

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For now, he said the union would not respond to any hearsay until they had time to interview Baloyi and others, and to deal with the issue should he be arrested and what he would be charged with.

Police spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo said a 36-year-old man was arrested in Sunnyside, Pretoria, yesterday for conspiracy to commit a crime and two counts of intimidation.

Masondo said the suspect would appear before the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court within 48 hours.

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