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SABC faces another allegation of sexual misconduct

The SABC building, Auckland Park. Picture: Karen Sandison

The SABC building, Auckland Park. Picture: Karen Sandison

Published Jul 19, 2023


The SABC continues to be riddled with allegations of sexual harassment of the staff despite the independent commission of inquiry recommending that the public broadcaster develop a culture that embraces the enhancement of human rights and gender rights.

Following allegations of sexual harassment, the SABC has been called upon to suspend the head of human resources, Mojaki Mosia, and human resource specialist Manno Bopape.

Communication Workers Union (CWU) and Broadcasting, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers Union (Bemawu) said Mosia should be suspended for allegations of sexual harassment levelled against him in March 2022.

The unions also said Bopape should be placed on suspension for allegedly threatening and intimidating victims.

In a letter dated June 23, 2023, CWU general secretary Aubrey Tshabalala said allegations of sexual harassment against Mosia were reported to group chief executive, Madoda Mxakwe, who requested chief audit executive Thami Zikode to co-ordinate a formal sitting to investigate the matter.

Tshabalala said it has been alleged that Zikode requested a meeting with the victims but Bopape allegedly threatened and intimidated the victims for “fear to be instigated on the sexually abused victims”.

“It is custom, as per the SABC policies, that the alleged perpetrators should be immediately suspended pending investigation and it should not be different in this instance as this is a very serious allegation, especially given the influential position that Mr Mosia holds as the head of human resources.

“Noting that he is someone in a position of power who can still continue with such conduct and can still intimidate and interfere with an internal investigation, it is yet a mystery as to why he still roams the SABC offices as if no alleged misconduct has been reported,” said Tshabalala.

He said the SABC board should also investigate the ratio of males and females appointed by Mosia, saying it appears to be in favour of females as opposed to males.

Tshabalala also suggested that the board should conduct a climate survey and a reporting line for sexual harassment at the SABC.

“We pray for the board to move with the necessary speed concerning this very difficult task and journey and confirm our commitment to work with the board in a zest to turn the SABC around and restore its credibility,” said Tshabalala.

This is not the first time the public broadcaster’s senior management has been implicated in allegations of sexual harassment.

Five senior employees were suspended in 2018 after the independent commission of inquiry recommended that they should be hauled before disciplinary hearings to answer for their alleged sex-pest tendencies.

The commission that investigated the allegations was chaired by gender equality expert Barbara Watson, who was assisted by the former chairperson of the Commission for Gender Equality, Mfanozelwe Shozi.

The commission found that SABC does not take harassment seriously and needs to develop a culture that embraces the enhancement of human rights and gender rights.

SABC spokesperson Mmoni Seapolelo said the broadcaster views sexual harassment in a serious light and will use its internal policies and procedures to deal with any reported allegations related to it.

On the other side, the SABC is preparing for a hearing against its four employees who took it to the labour court for “unlawful” dismissal.

The broadcaster fired the employees citing “non-recognition of employment contract”.

Their dismissal came after the labour court dismissed the SABC’s application to have a number of appointments it deemed irregular declared invalid and set aside.

These appointments were made when Hlaudi Motsoeneng was chief operating officer at the SABC.

In papers submitted at the Labour Court, the employees said the SABC decided to fire them using the disguise of “non-recognition of employment contracts” after it failed to dismiss them through the court application.

The employees said this was unlawful and an abuse of process and impermissible.

“The applicants are entitled, as a matter of law, to resume office and duties as soon as is practically possible. The unlawful dismissals by way of ‘non-recognition of their employment contract’ was a disguised plot to retrench the applicants,” read the court document.

Seapolelo said the SABC was aware of the case in question and was opposing the matter. “The SABC does not litigate through the media and its position has been well-ventilated in its court papers.”