Council dragS ITs feet on sex-pest case

Gertrude Makhafola

Gertrude Makhafola

Women's rights groups accuse the Mogale City municipality in the West Rand of using a technicality to avoid resolving a sexual harassment case against its human resources manager.

Sowetan published a report on Monday that reported how four women who work in the human resources department accused their boss, Humphrey Mmemezi, of sexual harassment.

They have all laid complaints against him with the municipality, the union and the police.

Mmemezi, however, said the charges against him were part of a smear campaign. The municipality said it was waiting for the women to lodge their complaints individually before it would investigate.

Carrie Shelver from People Opposing Women Abuse (Powa) said the case was a clear example of how municipalities used technicalities as an excuse.

"Clearly with the police having taken up the case it means that they have enough to go on. This is another example of how these institutions fail to protect women."

Shelver said it was unlikely that employees would falsely accuse an employer, particularly in an environment of high unemployment.

"These kinds of situations keep women out of the workplace."

Lisa Vetten of the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre said what the council wanted sounded strange.

"It seemed that the women had followed the right channels in terms of the internal grievances procedure. It is now up to the council."

Municipal spokesman Bongani Gaeje said the municipality had asked the women to submit individual complaints.

"Instead of co-operating with the municipality so that the matter is dealt with properly, they chose to co-operate with the media," he said.

Gaeje said the women had also raised other issues with managers besides the issue of indecent assault and sexual harassment.

"These ranged from management style [and] discipline [to] communication and so on. All these, except the sexual harassment issue, were dealt with and resolved."