Even as he protests his innocence‚ Equal Education general secretary Tshepo Motsepe has resigned after being accused of sexual harassment.

An independent panel will now investigate the allegations against him made by women who work at the civil society organisation.

The women will be offered counselling in the interim.

Confirming the "difficult developments"‚ Equal Education said it was making a public statement "in the interest of openness and transparency".

"We’re determined to act with integrity and sensitivity‚" the organisation said.

The allegations against Motsepe were disclosed to members of the organisation’s senior management team on April 18.

The women who came forward are Equal Education staff.

"We have been deeply distressed by these developments. We are resolute in our commitment to dealing with this matter in a just and transparent manner‚" Equal Education said.

A preliminary investigation was conducted‚ and a formal complaint was then submitted to Equal Education’s national council‚ its highest decision-making structure‚ on April 24.

On that day‚ it resolved to appoint a panel to assess the allegations against Motsepe.

"On Wednesday, April 25 he tendered his resignation. He has not accepted wrongdoing at this stage‚ and the national council has resolved to continue with the appointment of an independent panel to investigate the allegations‚" Equal Education said.

The panel will be chaired by Mercia Andrews, a director of the Trust for Community Outreach and Education.

Other panel members are: Madoda Cuphe, director of programmes at the Alternative Information and Development Centre; and Clare Ballard, an attorney at Lawyers for Human Rights.

A separate‚ broader assessment process would also be set up to examine Equal Education’s record of dealing with mistreatment in the workplace‚ its policies and procedures on sexual harassment‚ and the organisational norms and culture at EE.

"Equal Education aims to create an environment that believes and supports women when they bring forward claims of mistreatment‚ while dealing with misconduct fairly and appropriately. Protecting the privacy of these women has been‚ and will continue to be‚ a priority.…

"Our priority now is to build trust‚ and centre equality and justice in all our interactions."

The national council has appointed Leanne Jansen-Thomas as interim national co-ordinator.

"In order to protect the integrity of the investigation of the independent panel‚ we will provide further comment only once that process is finalised," Equal Education said.