Sonke Gender Justice staffer accused of sexual assault, suspended

Sonke Gender Justice is an NGO that believes women and men, girls and boys can work together to resist patriarchy, advocate for gender justice, and achieve gender transformation. Picture: Facebook

Sonke Gender Justice is an NGO that believes women and men, girls and boys can work together to resist patriarchy, advocate for gender justice, and achieve gender transformation. Picture: Facebook

Published Dec 8, 2023


The non-profit organisation Sonke Gender Justice says it has suspended an employee accused of sexual assault in the Western Cape.

Sonke Gender Justice said they viewed the matter in a serious light and had moved to suspend the employee, pending an investigation. They became aware of it on Thursday and took immediate action.

“Sonke has noted allegations of one of its staff members who is alleged to have committed a sexual offence against a young woman in the Western Cape.

“Sonke Gender Justice views this matter in a serious light and has suspended the staff member with immediate effect while it investigates and will ensure that the individual is held accountable for the crime,” said Khumalo.

She said the act was in violation of the NGO’s policies and undermined their commitment to end the scourge of violence against women.

“We trust that the criminal justice system will deal with this matter and ensure that justice is done. As an organisation, we will also reach out and offer the necessary support to the victim and her family,” said Bafana Khumalo, Sonke’s executive director.

Khumalo said an internal investigation was underway.

“One of our managers in the area is liaising with the family to ascertain from them what psychosocial support they will need, and the organization will respond accordingly,” said Khumalo.

South Africa is currently observing the 16 Days of no Violence Against Women and Children campaign, which runs between November 25 and December 10.

The campaign has been commemorated for 15 years in South Africa as a means to raise awareness to the devastating impact that gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) has on women and children, and the social fabric of our society.

Sonke was marking the campaign under the theme ‘’16 Days of Accountability’’, calling on communities, government, faith and traditional leaders to unite in the fight against the scourge of violence globally.

They said all perpetrators of violence must see their day in court and must be held accountable, regardless of their status in society.

‘’This is the only way that we will see the tide turning against gender-based violence, by ensuring that justice is served. We are also calling on men to reflect on their behaviour and limit all actions that create vulnerability and exposure to violence for women’’ said Khumalo, who is also the co-chairperson of the Global MenEngage Alliance

The South African Government has also urged members of the public to become activists against GBV at home, work and in their communities.

“Challenge cultures and practices that perpetuate gender inequalities and consequent abuse of women and children at personal and societal level,” they said.

According to the SA Government, each person can contribute to ending GBV by:

– Don't look away, reject and report abusers.

– Sign the Pledge Against Gender-Based Violence. Do not engage in abusive activities and become an abuser.

– Challenge and denounce cultural practices that perpetuate gender inequalities.

– Be sensitive and supportive to GBV victims - share helpful information and support causes near you.

– Seek personal help to change harmful behaviours such as alcohol and substance abuse.

– Teach children values of gender equality.

– Protect children from exposure to violence and harmful content on internet and social media, including pornography, sexual solicitation.

– Develop policies that prevent and deal with gender-based violence in your sector, workplace and communities.

– Organise targeted community outreach and dialogues on solution towards a gender equal society.

Meanwhile, the Second Quarter Crime Statistics released by the SA Police Service, for the period July to September 2023, showed:

– 6,945 people murdered and 6,911 attempted murder cases opened.

– 13,090 sexual offences committed, including rape, sexual assault, attempted sexual assault and contact sexual offences.

– 42,297 cases of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

– 45,348 cases of common assault.

– a total of 165,909 contact crimes.

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