SABC to investigate sexual harassment at the public broadcaster

31 May 2018 - 15:20
By Nico Gous
Image: Waldo Swiegers. (C) Sunday Times.

The SABC is establishing two Commissions of Inquiry that will investigate editorial interference and sexual harassment at the public broadcaster.

Acting CEO Nomsa Philiso announced the commissions at the state broadcaster’s offices in Auckland Park in Johannesburg on Thursday.

“We are hoping that when we get to the other side of these inquiries‚ we are going to be able to say that we have cleansed the first layer of the people issues. We are under no illusions that we have a lot issues.”

Philiso said the sexual harassment investigation will be broad.

“We’ve been at pains to explain that it is broad as it could be‚ including unwelcoming gestures‚ whether it is touching or just how it makes you feel.”

Philiso said staff and others remain hesitant to come forward because of stigma or distrust in the system.

The inquiry into editorial interference follows the recommendations from the parliamentary ad hoc committee on the SABC board inquiry.

“We feel that we haven’t closed the loop. We don’t feel that we are really out of what happened previously and it was at that point that we decided that let’s deal with this thing once and for all.”

The commission of inquiry will investigate editorial interference between 2012 and 2018. There is no timeline for the inquiry into sexual harassment.

Philiso said the SABC was still reviewing its current editorial policy.

“The first objective for us is to future proof ourselves.”

The two commissions will run from June 1 to July 31. The first two weeks for those who want to come forward and share their experiences – this includes full-time employees‚ freelancers and suppliers.

“I do not have any illusion that when we finish the Commission of Inquiry that those things will not happen again‚ because our society is just what it is. What I’m hoping for is that it starts to set the tone.”

The public broadcaster has appointed a legal firm to run the inquiries. “No SABC members will sit on the Commission of Inquiry so that it remains independent‚” said Philiso.