/ 26 May 2018

Equal Education meets with WC education dept over sexual harassment claims

Education MEC Debbie Schäfer.
Education MEC Debbie Schäfer.

Equal Education (EE) members have met with various members of the Western Cape education department to discuss the recent developments around allegations of sexual harassment within the organisation and their ongoing work in the province.

The organisation says it now has three separate processes currently running to investigate allegations of sexual harassment, following the shock resignation of three senior members of the organisation amid growing claims of misconduct.

Treasurer Doron Isaacs, former general secretary Tshepo Motsepe and former head of national organising Luyolo Mazwembe, all resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment earlier this month.

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Western Cape EE head, Noncedo Madudube, said a delegation from EE, which included elected leadership committee members, Madudube, deputy head Ntsiki Dlulane, and EE interim national co-ordinator Leanne Jansen-Thomas had met with Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schäfer, head of department Brian Schreuder, and other staff from the Western Cape education department (WCED).

This followed after Schäfer had called for members of EE, who were not pupils, not to participate in any activity on school premises until the education department could clarify the extent to which men from the organisation had interacted with pupils at schools this year.

She also wanted to know what measures were in place to vet its members.

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Madudube said EE had assured the WCED that they had strict sexual harassment policies in place and that they had acted swiftly to address every sexual harassment allegation that has been put before it.

She said the three separate processes included an independent panel that would look into allegations of sexual harassment levelled against Motshepe.

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“The panel may investigate any other matter that arises as part of the process or refer it to the broader assessment process mentioned below,” said Madudube.

A second independent panel would investigate sexual harassment allegations against Isaacs.

“EE’s National Council has also resolved to establish a broader assessment process, which will examine EEs record of dealing with mistreatment in the workplace, as well as EE’s policies, procedures and organisational culture in regard to harassment, and power dynamics,” said Madudube.

Madudube said the three men had “no regular direct interaction” with learners, and that, as soon as allegations emerged, EE’s current leadership had ensured that they were prevented from any possible engagement.

Madudube said the meeting had concluded on a positive note, with matters clarified regarding school-based activities and the seriousness with which EE has approached issues of sexual harassment.

“It was agreed that there should at this stage be no obstacle to EE members continuing to organise in the Western Cape,” she said.

Madudube said they had resolved to meet with the WCED again, once the investigations into sexual harassment have been concluded.

RIGHT OF REPLY: We are looking inward — Equal Education

“We care deeply about our core mission — the struggle for access to quality education for all — and we will continue to fight for equitable education in the Western Cape,” she said. — News24