Gender Commission calls for openness and transparency in MCSA sexual harassment inquiry

The Commission for Gender Commission (CGE) has witnessed with shock, videos of two young women doing rounds in the social media protesting against a Steward who was making announcements at the Methodist Church of South Africa (MCSA) Central Pretoria. According to media reports and interviews conducted by the leaders of the church, the two young women were agitated against the church for not taking action against the very Steward after having reported him for sexual harassment with the MCSA leadership in Central Pretoria.

The inaction of the MCSA leadership prompted the two young women to conduct a silent protest inside the church whilst the announcements were being made by the Steward who is the alleged perpetrator. The Commission condemns how the church handled the complaint of sexual harassment against the Steward. Whilst, we applaud the church for having a sexual harassment policy, the Commission has come to a realisation that in an endeavour to address the matter the church also disregarded their own policy on sexual harassment and processes.

It is therefore against this backdrop that the CGE is calling for openness and transparency in the matter. This will afford all the processes to stand public scrutiny, thus ensuring that the two young women are not subjected to further victimisation and trauma as has been the case. The church is supposed to be a sacred place of worship and should serve as a sanctuary to communities. However, of late we note that churches are increasingly besieged with sexual harassment allegations. The inquiry that the church is advancing would help restore faith in humanity, that the church can lead the fight against gender based image.

Last year, the Commission gave a message of support to the National Religious Leadership Council (NRLC) that was calling both Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Government to work together with the church to help root out gender based violence and other related atrocities within the church. The clarion call by the NRLC was an acknowledgement that the church is not immune to harbouring sexual predators, hence the Commission’s call for openness and transparency

The Commission is also calling for MCSA to report the Steward to the police for the law to take its course, whilst they conduct their own internal processes. The MCSA in an endeavour for openness and transparency must remove the Steward from their leadership hierarchy as his continued presence can hamper investigation.

The Commission will be monitoring the case to ensure that justice for both the alleged perpetrator and the victims is served.

We urge members of the public who have knowledge of and information on acts of gender based violence and abuse to call our Toll-Free Number 0800 007 709 to report such cases.

Source: Government of South Africa