As the internal grievance hearing against SABC head of news, Jimi Matthews, is heard today, another case of assault has taken place at the SABC in which a manager is alleged to have physically, verbally and psychologically assaulted an employee. Glenda Nevill reports.
General secretary of the Media Workers Association of South Africa, Tuwani Gumani, says top SABC news man, Alwyn Kloppers, has been accused by one of his team of assault. In his complaint, the staffer says Kloppers “kicked and pushed me into the office yelling and swearing at me. He grabbed the squeeze bottle that was on my table full of water and sprayed it over me and documents that were on my desk. I screamed ‘no Alwyn don’t do that’ trying to stop him”.
The incident reveals startling similarities to the case being heard today in which the public broadcaster’s head of news attacked a woman – a Mwasa member – when the broadcaster was unable to receive a feed from within the National Assembly on the night of President Jacob Zuma’s state of the nation address. As everyone now knows, state security had jammed network signals from within the House resulting in an epic scandal. The woman said she was “victimised, harassed and assaulted verbally, physically and psychologically by the male executive manager following a technical glitch beyond her control or that of the crew she supervised”, reads the complaint to the CCMA.
In the new case, the news department was frantically getting ready to cover Zuma’s unexpected release of the Farlam Report into the Marikana massacre. The complainant, who was out of his office in a meeting with another manager, was tasked with ensuring the correct equipment was delivered to Marikana for the broadcast. “I rushed to my office and when I got to my door Mr Kloppers was there shouting asking why I don’t like doing my job,” he writes in his complaint.
He says the incident was witnessed by several people including an HR manager and the station manager of an African Language Station.
The complainant laid a charge of assault at the Sunnyside police station, but says he will withdraw it as he believes SABC processes “will be able to resolve this matter fairly”. He also went to a hospital to report “an injury on duty”. “The doctor checked me on the same day, the 29th June 2015 and my next appointment will be on the 13 July 2015. I will be happy if this matter can be handled in a proper and fair manner,” the staffer said.
Meanwhile, Gumani says the incident is symptomatic of a news department under severe stress.
“The experiences of ordinary members in the employ of the SABC point to a humanitarian crisis inside the broadcaster. Stress levels must have hit the upper limits for senior managers to resort to physical violence on company premises and on company time,” Gumani told The Media Online. “Mwasa members have been specially selected target subjects of vicious attacks both as individuals and as a collective. The abuse of our members will not go unanswered.”
The Media Online sent questions to SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago but had not received a response at the time of posting.
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