SABC worker lays assault charge against head of news

A member of the SABC’s Cape Town team has laid charges of assault against the broadcaster’s head of news, Jimi Matthews.

The charge was laid at the Cape Town Central Police Station and a case was also lodged with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) on Wednesday.

The alleged incident took place outside Parliament on February 12 during the national broadcaster’s coverage of the State of the Nation Address. Matthews is said to have attacked the woman who was unable to receive a feed from Parliament due to signal jamming, according to the Media Online.

The woman was “victimised, harassed and assaulted verbally, physically and psychologically by a male executive manager following a technical glitch beyond her control or that of the crew she supervised”, reads the complaint to the CCMA.

“Further, upon receiving an incident report and being expressly notified that the conduct of the executive manager was unwelcome, the executive manager threatened the applicant with more deliberate and purposeful violence if any similar incident occurs in future,” the complaint read.

Disciplinary action
General secretary of the Media Workers Association of South Africa (Mwasa), Tuwani Gumani has asked that the SABC formally caution and suspend Matthews, institute a formal and independent investigation into the allegations and call on Matthews to answer to the charges of assault, abuse of authority, victimisation, failure to act with care towards the SABC, and bringing the SABC into disrepute.

When contacted by the Mail & Guardian, Matthews said he was not prepared to comment on the matter.

SABC spokesperson, Kaizer Kganyago, said: “The SABC can confirm that a formal grievance has been lodged on the 19 February 2015, seven days after the alleged incident. It must also be noted that the grievance was lodged a few hours after the said employee was told of her impending disciplinary action against her. As per the HR processes of the SABC, the matter is being investigated and all processes to bring this matter to finality will be undertaken with the urgency it deserves,” he said. 

“It must be noted that the SABC cannot comment on the complaint lodged with the police. We are also aware of the matter being taken to the CCMA but our understanding is that the CCMA process does not precede the SABC’s internal process.”

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