MEDIA STATEMENT: EQUAL EDUCATION’S GENERAL SECRETARY RESIGNS, INDEPENDENT PANEL INVESTIGATES SEXUAL HARASSMENT ALLEGATIONS
On Wednesday 18 April, allegations against the Equal Education (EE) General Secretary, Tshepo Motsepe, of sexual harassment, were disclosed to members of EE’s senior management team. The women who came forward are EE staff.
A preliminary investigation was conducted, and a formal complaint was then submitted to EE’s National Council, our movement’s highest decision-making structure, on 24 April. On that day it resolved that a panel was to be appointed which assessed the allegations against Tshepo.
On Wednesday 25 April, he tendered his resignation. He has not accepted wrongdoing at this stage, and the National Council has resolved to continue with the appointment of an independent panel to investigate the allegations. (See M&G article).
Furthermore, the National Council has resolved to establish a separate, broader assessment process, which will examine EE’s record of dealing with mistreatment in the workplace, EE’s policies and procedures in regard to sexual harassment, and the organisational norms and culture which currently exist at EE.
This was finalised at an in-person meeting of the National Council on 12 May, after the preliminary meetings on 24 April, 27 April, and 30 April.
The members of the panel are as follows:
- Mercia Andrews (Chairperson) – Co-Director of the Trust for Community Outreach and Education (TCOE)
- Madoda Cuphe – Director of Programmes at the Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC)
- Clare Ballard – Attorney at Lawyers for Human Rights
We have been deeply distressed by these developments. We are resolute in our commitment to dealing with this matter in a just and transparent manner.
EE aims to create an environment that believes and supports women when they bring forward claims of mistreatment, while dealing with misconduct fairly and appropriately. Protecting the privacy of these women has been, and will continue to be, a priority for EE.
Our priority now is to build trust, and centre equality and justice in all our interactions.
We have spent the past few weeks engaging directly on this matter with Equal Education members, staff, the National Council, our partners, external supporters, and other forums within EE to determine the best ways to support the women who have come forward, and ensure that a sensitive and full investigation is undertaken. Counselling has also been offered to staff.
We have needed to inform and engage our members in a sensitive way. We did not believe it would be fair for Equalisers, their parents or teachers to hear of the resignation of the General Secretary via a media statement. Now that we have engaged members across the country, and the independent panel has been appointed and the Terms of Reference (ToR) for the inquiry adopted, we are providing this update.
The National Council has appointed Leanne Jansen-Thomas as the Interim National Coordinator of Equal Education until Congress. She will work in parallel with EE’s Deputy General Secretary, Ntuthuzo Ndzomo, and both have the full support of EE’s Senior Management Team in fulfilling their duties in the months leading up to EE’s National Congress in July 2018.
In order to protect the integrity of the investigation of the independent panel, we will provide further comment only once that process is finalised.
Statement issued by Yoliswa Dwane, Equal Education National Council Chairperson, 14 May 2018