South Africa: Sexual Harassment Is Everywhere At Luthuli House - Jesse Duarte

Left: Luthuli House. Top-right: ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte. Bottom right: Composite of Zizi Kodwa (left) and Pule Mabe (right).

ANC deputy secretary general Jesse Duarte has exposed how sexual harassment is endemic at Luthuli House.

Speaking at a women's dialogue hosted by the ruling party on Thursday night, Duarte said she was shocked by toxic masculinity growing in society.

This comes on the back of sexual harassment and rape allegations levelled against two senior ANC leaders, Zizi Kodwa and Pule Mabe.

The two men were forced to step down from their roles as party spin doctors after women came out alleging wrongdoing.

Mabe is accused of sexual harassment by his former personal assistant Kgoerano Kekana, while a claim of rape has been levelled against Kodwa, who is also the head of the ANC's presidency office.

Addressing women at the dialogue, Duarte said Luthuli House had undergone a "difficult" time and as a result, the ANC decided to have workshops to talk about sexual harassment in the workplace.

"We have decided to do what ANC does best; gather everybody and talk about how do we solve this problem that we have here in the workplace, of perceptions of sexual harassment or realities of sexual harassment. But there wouldn't be an outcry if there wasn't a problem."

Shocking things had come out of the workshops, she said.

She detailed what male comrades had said in a session on Wednesday, that "you think the women are being harassed, we get pictures and phone calls every day and we also are being sexual[ly] harassed by women".

Duarte added that she was shown pictures of women availing themselves to ANC staff at Luthuli House.

"The most undemocratic thing that we found was the tweets, the WhatsApp and the Facebook. Co-sexual harassment on all sides. Everybody is doing it to everybody else, how do we stop it? How do we discourage it from everybody?"

She encouraged women to speak out on sexual harassment at the workplace and be activists.

"We have the laws, thank you very much. It's implementation time and our voices must be heard."

Last year, Kekana handed over a 14-page letter detailing the alleged sexual harassment when she worked with Mabe.

She claimed Mabe forced himself into her bed on two occasions earlier this year, adding that after she rejected his advances, it resulted in her being ill-treated by the ANC's national spokesperson as his assistant.

Kekana, who has expressed some dissatisfaction with how the ANC handled her sexual harassment complaint, has already indicated she would be taking more steps, including approaching the CCMA. Mabe has denied her claims.

In February, Duarte confirmed the party received a letter laying a complaint of rape against Kodwa. She said the party had advised the complainant to take her issue to law enforcement agencies.

Kodwa has vehemently denied the claims, labelling them as factional. He also said he would be consulting with his lawyers on a way forward.

Both Kodwa and Mabe would remain active at Luthuli House and have not been formally suspended, News24 reported.

Source: News24

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