NEWS & ANALYSIS

Sexual harassment: EE calls for submissions

As movement committed to SJ, we are determined to address any factors which may enable abuse of power,

EQUAL EDUCATION CALLS FOR SUBMISSIONS REGARDING SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND RELATED MISCONDUCT

Equal Education (EE) is aware of statements made on social media, of personal experiences and other expressions of concern, regarding both current and past instances of sexual harassment and related misconduct by persons associated with EE.

We thank everyone who has shared their concerns. We take them seriously, and encourage any person willing to come forward and share information about these matters with the independent investigation panel established by EE, to do so as soon as possible. Submissions can include, but will not be limited to formal testimonies, anonymous tip-offs, and suggestions for areas of further investigation. Anyone wanting to make a submission may contact: eeinquiry18@gmail.com.

We acknowledge that the concerns being raised include several about past investigations into misconduct of leaders at EE. We appeal to people with information about these matters to come forward. We are committed to ensuring that any injustices committed by those associated with EE are investigated properly, and that people are held accountable for their actions.

Submissions made to the independent panel will be accessible only to its members – Mercia Andrews, Madoda Cuphe, Clare Ballard, and the panel secretary Honjiswa Raba*. We have confidence in the integrity of the panel, and in their capacity to lead this process sensitively and proactively. In particular, we are collectively committed to ensuring that the identities of those making submissions will remain confidential.

As detailed in our public statement of 14 May 2018, the independent panel referred to above will focus on concluding the investigation into EE’s former General Secretary – while also being empowered to refer any other matter arising for further investigation, exploration, or attention, as part of a broader inquiry into sexual harassment and abuse of power. The scope of this broader inquiry includes, but is not limited to: EE’s handling of prior cases of sexual harassment and related misconduct; EE’s policies and procedures in regard to sexual harassment; and the organisational norms and culture which currently exists at EE.

The terms of reference for this broader process and identification of persons to be involved, is still being undertaken by EE’s National Council. EE’s Senior Management Team has already initiated an internal consultation process that will be incorporated into the broader inquiry described above.

We emphasise the importance of these processes, our need to approach them with care and integrity, and the time that must be taken to ensure that they are thorough and meaningful.

As a movement committed to social justice, we are determined to identify and address any factors which may enable the abuse of power, particularly sexual harassment. We are determined to work hard to remedy this – to build a safe, welcoming movement.

We would be failing in our duty toward the women who have confided in us, if we did not pause to plead that there not be speculation regarding their identities. That the details of their complaints have been published in news articles is insensitive and causes great anxiety. It has taken immense courage for the women to come forward, and to be prepared to testify before the independent panel. We must not lose sight of their needs and the potential to discourage other women from coming forward in our determination to expose wrongdoing.

Statement issued by Yoliswa Dwane, Equal Education National Council Chairperson, 17 May 2018

Update:

EQUAL EDUCATION REFINES PROCESS OF RECEIVING SUBMISSIONS REGARDING SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND RELATED MISCONDUCT

Earlier today, 17 May 2018, we released a statement in which we provided further details on how the independent inquiry established by Equal Education’s National Council (NC) to investigate allegations of sexual harassment by the former General Secretary, Tshepo Motsepe would function.

We explained that persons wishing to make submissions to the panel regarding current and past instances of sexual harassment and related misconduct by persons associated with EE, could contact eeinquiry18@gmail.com. We encouraged persons to make submissions freely, including formal testimonies, anonymous tip-offs, and suggestions for areas of further investigation.

We explained that while the terms of reference of the current panel is limited to a consideration of allegations of sexual harassment by Tshepo Motsepe, the panel is 

empowered to refer any other matter arising for further investigation, exploration, or attention, as part of a broader inquiry into sexual harassment and abuse of power.

We said that submissions made to the independent panel would be accessible only to its members - Mercia Andrews, Madoda Cuphe, Clare Ballard, and to the panel secretary Honjiswa Raba, EE’s Human Resources Manager. In a note we explained that Honjiswa’s role was that of an administrative secretary and that she would assist the panel in administrative tasks, and that she was bound to written confidentiality and discretion agreements.

However, in response to our statement, there has been concerns raised about the independence of the panel and the confidentiality provided to those wishing to make submissions. In acknowledgement of these concerns and because we want to ensure that everyone who wants to make a submission can do so freely, we have decided to close down eeinquiry18@gmail.com.

Instead we have created the following email addresses for persons to write directly to the panel member/members of their choosing:

Mercia Andrews (Chairperson): mercia.eeinquiry@gmail.com

Madoda Cuphe: madoda.eeinquiry@gmail.com

Clare Ballard: clare.eeinquiry@gmail.com

All submissions received by individual panel members will be considered by the panel as a whole. Honjiswa Raba, a person of the utmost integrity, will continue to serve as the administrative secretary of the panel, assisting the members with logistical tasks and not having any access to submissions made online and also not being present when submissions are made in person to the panel.

We thank those who shared their concerns with us and assure you that we remain committed to the integrity and independence of the process we have embarked upon to confront and address instances of sexual harassment and other forms of gender-based violence, both past and present, within our movement.

Statement issued by Equal Education, 17 May 2018