Zwelinzima Vavi. Picture: BLOOMBERG/NADINE HUTTON
Zwelinzima Vavi. Picture: BLOOMBERG/NADINE HUTTON

News that South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi is facing new claims of sexually assaulting a woman in the workplace is eliciting response.

The Liberated Metalworkers Union of SA (Limusa) said on Friday that it condemns any form of sexual harassment and sexual abuse on women.

The union was commenting in the wake of a report in The Sowetan that Vavi has been given a warning after a cleaner who worked for the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) filed a sexual harassment complaint against Vavi after his alleged conduct caused her stress.

Vavi has downplayed the report and said the allegation was made last year and that due process was followed. Vavi said it was accepted by all parties that there had been a complete misunderstanding and the matter was put to rest.

“It has become common practice in our society that men who occupy positions of power are always protected after committing such disgraceful acts which reduce women to being sub-humans‚” Limusa spokesperson Dloze Matooane said in a statement.

Matooane said it was disheartening that all the women who complained about victimisation by an alleged perpetrator suffered from such evil acts in places which‚ in reality‚ should protect workers and champion their interests.

“We will make it our duty to protect women in our society. We therefore appeal to the [conscience] of Saftu members to not allow those who claim to be powerful to get away with victimising women. We will observe all events surrounding this matter and shall not allow further victimisation of the cleaner who came to work to be victimised.”