Some female employees at the Sol Plaatje Municipality in Kimberley, in the Northern Cape, say their work environment has become unbearable because of alleged sexual harassment and intimidation by male workers. This comes after the municipality found a male manager guilty of continuously sexually harassing one of his junior staff members.
The women say despite reporting the incidents to the municipal management, nothing has been done to the alleged perpetrators.
The women say they have had enough. They say they feel unsafe in a working environment that is an alleged breeding ground for abuse.
One female worker, who refused to go on the record, had to go as far as obtaining a five year interdict against her male manager who allegedly sexually harassed her relentlessly.
Another female employee, who did not want to be named, described how the same male manager made sexual advances and comments to her.
“This is a man who is in a management position. This is a man who has a lot of influence. Here I am a mere worker; I don’t have any ranks. Who do I run to? When I seek help, I’m told that ‘no, sexual harassment case is very difficult to prove because it is hearsay, it’s he said she said.’ Here’s a man who’s old enough to be my father who’s undressing me. I felt violated; I felt disgusted.”
Another worker, who also did not want to be named, says she has a case against her male manager, which has been pending since 2017.
She described how the man allegedly verbally abused her and intimidated her to the point where she had to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital.
“I’m living every day in hell because I have to depend on medication. I’m not myself anymore ever since this happened to me and still they go on like I’m making it all up. We come here for our families; we’re not coming here for someone else to come harass or bully or intimidate us.”
Women and sexual harassment in the workplace:
Spokesperson for the Sol Plaatje Municipality, Sello Matsie, says the municipality condemns sexual harassment.
“We are very much opposed to issues of sexual harassment and none of our employees should be subjected to such. There is no way that we will in anyway, whatsoever, protect any person who does wrong. We will definitely be working with other law enforcement agencies should the need arise.”
Meanwhile, another female employee at the Municipality is appealing what she refers to as a light sentence handed down to her senior who was found guilty of sexually harassing her. The man received a ten day suspension with a 10 day salary cut for the duration of three months.
Issues of sexual harassment in the workplace: