Durban - COMMUNITY leaders and former staff at Lotus FM have expressed sadness and disappointment after the recent sexual harassment findings made by an independent commission of inquiry, and believe much needs to be done to return the station to its former glory.
Khalik Sheriff, a former manager, said: “It is shocking and disappointing to discover that a brand that had meant so much to the community has stooped to these levels. In my time, such allegations were unheard of. We all worked as a team and saw each other as family.”
Sheriff suggested that in order for the station to get back on its feet again, it needed to focus on forming a strong management team.
Ex-freelance radio presenter Faradh Patel said the findings were shameful, but a sad reality that affected not only women but men too.
“Lotus FM has failed its listenership. The report, however, is insufficient in doing justice to the truth, and as South Africans, we must stand for truth and justice. We need to protect the rights of others, and the culture of ubuntu is pivotal. I think it is high time to break the silence on abuse.”
Ravi Govender, whose contract was terminated by the station, said the news came as no shock to him.
“We had heard rumblings about these matters in hushed tones over the years. My policy was not to get involved in station matters, but get in, do my job and go home. The station has been on a downward spiral for a while now. There is no loyalty to long-standing staff and no back up from management. They are quite literally self-destructing.”
Govender advised that experienced broadcasters need to be placed in management positions quickly.
“The station can be salvaged and turned around if people with a passion for the medium were entrusted with the reins of the station.”
IFP MP Narend Singh said he was not surprised to hear of the findings.
“Months prior, a few MPs and myself met star employees and raised the issues of staff allegations with the chief executive. Our view is that if any person is found guilty of sexual misconduct, they must not only be fired but face the full might of the law.”
MF leader, Shameen Thakur Rajbansi, said it was the best-kept secret up to now.
“I am proud of those who were brave and testified on sexual harassment at the workplace. There must be consequence management by the SABC for perpetrators to cleanse Lotus FM of bad elements, and only a new team, trained in areas that the commission has recommended, will return Lotus FM to its former glory.”Ashwin Trikamjee, president of the SA Hindu Maha Sabha, found the report to be limited in its findings as investigations were not across the board. He was surprised and disappointed nonetheless. I certainly did not imagine that there would be that kind of behaviour unabated. Lotus FM has always been a community station with moral values, but I am glad it is out in the open.”
He said the SABC must make sure it deals with the perpetrators quickly and effectively.
“I have full confidence that the SABC will work fervently in mopping up this mess.”
Ram Maharaj, president of the SA Hindu Dharma Sabha, said the law must take its due course but the inappropriate conduct of a few should not impact negatively on the majority who are doing sterling work and can raise Lotus FM to new heights.
“I am confident that Lotus will bloom bigger and better going forward. The lotus flower, which is the national flower of India, is a symbol of duty, purity, serenity and truth. The lotus does not allow itself to be polluted by its murky environment but rises above and maintains its beauty.”
He added that many people at Lotus FM have the expertise and experience to ensure that Lotus FM becomes the most powerful national instrument to preserve and promote Indian culture and languages.
Sunday Tribune Herald