JOHANNESBURG, May 23 – An independent inquiry is probing allegations of sexual harassment against senior staffers at rights group Equal Education.
The NGO has been rocked by allegations of sexual harassment in recent times. Three senior staffers tendered their resignation from the organization after damning media reports.
Treasurer Doron Isaacs resigned last week. This came after general secretary Tshepo Motsepe and head of national organizing Luyolo Mazwembe resigned last month in the wake of sexual harassment allegations.
“This has been an incredibly difficult period for Equal Education. We know that the trust and confidence which our supporters have placed in us, and the reputation which we have built over 10 years of struggle, has been damaged by what has transpired,” the organization said in a statement.
“However, we are committed to confronting these difficult times in our movement’s history, with honesty, and with integrity. ”
Another prominent activist Zachie Achmat has come under fire after accusations of covering up sexual misconduct allegations against Isaacs surfaced. Achmat was the chairperson of EE at the time. He has denied shielding Isaacs or any wrongdoing.
Women reportedly came out blaming NGOs for not taking action against alleged sexual misconduct in the activism space, dating back years. Several women told weekly newspaper Mail & Guardian how they were subjected to sexual harassment by their male managers at EE.
On Wednesday, Western Cape education MEC Debbie Schäfer raised concerns about EE as allegations mounted. She requested EE to provide details on whether their staffers were vetted ahead of being assigned to work at schools.
“Sexual abuse against young female learners is prevalent in our communities, as raised by Equal Education on a number of occasions, and it is distressing that such allegations have been made against high ranking members of their own organization,” she said in a statement.
“In the meantime, I have requested that our chief director for districts immediately investigate what measures are taken by NGO’s working in our schools to vet their members, and put whatever processes are necessary, in place.”
– African News Agency (ANA)