The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (NUMSA) boycotted outside the Maitland police station on Monday demanding the removal of the station commander who has been allegedly sexually harassing workers.
Lumka Tamboer, COSATU provincial gender co-ordinator said the boycott followed a 2018 demonstration and numerous letters to the previous provincial police commissioner to get the station commander removed, but with no action taken.
She said “Instead what keeps on happening is that the victim will be removed to another police station or when they start to report these cases against him they get charged for crimen injuria or being disruptive”.
Tamboer said five female police officers have laid their grievances against him with the union from 2018 until early this year.
She said “We want him to be removed from the station and the system because he is not fit to be working with people. You cannot be given the mandate to protect society when you are the criminal yourself and cannot be entrusted with upholding the law. What is he going to do to criminals when he himself does not see anything wrong with harassing women”.
Tamboer added that no cases of sexual harassment were opened against the station commander but only affidavits were received. She said they were looking to engage with the employer and see if the union will open a mass case against him or if the members will open individual cases. She said they were concerned that there were more victims that were terrified of coming forward.
Shahida Miniers from NUMSA said it was sad that perpetrators of sexual harassment in the workplace were protected by employers. She said “We believe that workplaces do have sexual harassment policies. The problem is that it is only on paper in some workplaces with no intention to implement the sexual harassment policy but rather to get rid of victims in the workplace”.
Meanwhile, police spokesperson Novela Potelwa said “The Western Cape SAPS management has noted a picket by Cosatu members outside the Maitland police station today. It is on this basis the Provincial Commissioner Yolisa Matakata wishes to urgently engage Cosatu on the matter as sexual harassment in the workplace is abhorred and viewed in a serious light within the SAPS.”
Potelwa said part of the engagement would be appraised on the details of the complaints/affidavits and to initiate due process.