How SABC top brass sexually harassed staff

The report shows rampant sex abuse at the SABC.
The report shows rampant sex abuse at the SABC.
Image: Tyrone Arthur

Senior managers, executive producers and a station manager are among the first officials to face the music after being implicated in the SABC sexual harassment inquiry report.

The five senior employees were suspended late last year after recommendations 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, assisted by former chairperson of the the Commission for Gender Equality Mfanozelwe Shozi.

Top of the list of the alleged perpetrators was a human resources (HR) manager who, according to the report seen by Sunday World, allegedly entered the office of his female boss, a provincial general manager in one of the SABC's provincial offices, with an erect penis and asked her to touch it.

Manager kissed boss

The same official, who now faces two charges of sexual harassment, also allegedly hugged, kissed and touched his boss, who is also the wife of an SABC employee.

The report also shows that he had, in another incident, touched her inappropriately and asked her to go out with him. According to the complaint, the incidents happened in 2014.

The report shows that in his response to the complaints, the HR manager conceded hugging his boss but said it was not intended to seduce her but to console her as she was at the time dismissed by the SABC.

Barbara Watson chaired the inquiry into sexual harassment at the SABC.
Barbara Watson chaired the inquiry into sexual harassment at the SABC.

In another case, a station manager has also been charged with two counts of sexual harassment involving his subordinates after he allegedly asked one of the station's freelancers that "if I was your boyfriend's age would you marry me?".

The report shows the station manager continued with his remarks and had also told the freelancer that she looked sexy and she had sexy legs during a trip to Cape Town.

Pest too drunk to recall

However, the same report shows that when the man was confronted about the allegations by his colleague in the presence of HR, he claimed to have been too drunk to remember what had happened.

The report states that the manager denied that the incident could have happened, stating that he considered the freelancer more like his daughter.

The report also shows that, despite being the victim in the case, the freelancer declined the invitation to testify before the commission.

Three executive producers, according to the report, have also been charged with sexual harassment following the release of the report.

Producer stalked colleague

It shows that one of them had allegedly asked to be touchy with his subordinate on numerous occasions, until she decided to resign.

The victim told the commission that the producer had always showed up at work late when he was not supposed to be there when she was on duty.

When the producer was confronted with the allegations, he accused the victim of being a latecomer and a poor performer.

The second executive producer implicated in the report was accused by a news producer of demanding sex with her for more shifts.

The complainant said it all started when her boss was offering her endless lifts home and would touch her in an inappropriate way.

Other incidents included his demands for the news producer to work late so that they could be alone in the office.

In another incident he told the producer he wanted to have sex with her, which she refused.

She said when she turned him down, he reduced her working hours.

The report shows that the alleged perpetrator never showed up when he was invited for an interview to respond to the allegations.

Another case happened at Channel Africa and involved a senior executive producer and line manager who allegedly made romantic advances on a freelance radio presenter.

The line manager had always complimented the freelancer about her dress and at times offered to take her to the salon to do her hair and to buy her clothes.

The report states that the victim had at times agreed to go out with the line manager because she feared that she would lose her job.

However, she said he took it too far when on one occasion he took her to a restaurant and tried to get her drunk so he could sleep with her.

Boss tried to get victim drunk

She said the manager ordered shooters for her and lied that they were not alcoholic drinks and would neutralise the wine they had been drinking. She said when she got to the house after the outing, the manager tried to kiss her on her lips but she refused.

The report states that the victim also told the commission that the manager also offered to buy her a car but that she refused the offer.

In his response to the allegations, the report shows that the manager told the commission he had given the freelancer between R400 and R1,000 to support her because she was broke.

The manager confirmed he took the freelancer out and gave her rides in his car but only because she was his home girl and nothing more.

He, however, denied ever buying the freelancer alcohol, stating that he does not drink.

Another case involved a manager at the SABC head office who asked his subordinate to allow him to feel her body so that he could buy her clothes. Other remarks by the manager included complimenting her perfume, stating that it smelt sexy and that he wished he shared an office with her.

The victim said the manager had always stared at her in a way that she found offensive.

As a result of this sexual harassment, the victim said she suffered work-related depression because of victimisation and was hospitalised for many months until the SABC stopped her salary, saying she had been on sick leave for a long time.

She resigned and later filed an application for constructive dismissal at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

The manager, the report shows, failed to honour three invitations to answer to the allegations levelled against him.

It was only after he was told that the commission was taking the victim's version as the truth that he responded using his union, stating that he wouldn't participate until he was provided with full details of the allegations against him.

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