Sahara refutes sexual harassment finding

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Sahara Computers SA is appealing the judgement that orders it to pay R60 000 in damages to a former employee for not adequately addressing her complaints of sexual harassment.

The company says the manager accused of sexually harassing Georgina Mokone has been given a final written warning.

However, it will not disclose his name, since the case is against the company and not him.

Surprise decision

“We are surprised at the judge's finding. We disagree with the judge and have appealed the decision,” says Sahara.

The company says its records clearly show that it did everything possible to protect Mokone, as is reasonably expected of any employer.

Sahara says it will not make any further comment on the matter as it is under appeal.

Employee protection

Mokone lodged a claim of R200 000 against Sahara for mental anguish and psychological trauma at the Pretoria High Court, according to media reports.

Mokone said she had reported the manager in question to her superiors, but the company was reluctant to act against him as he was “well connected”.

She said she did not hold her employer liable for the actions of the manager, but it should have acted against him when she lodged the complaint.

She added that in February 2008, she officially complained to the company's HR department and a disciplinary hearing was held, where the man was issued with a final warning.

Mokone said she was unhappy with the outcome, and at least expected him to be suspended.

She said she tried to appeal the finding of the disciplinary hearing, but nothing came of it. She then resigned in May 2009 “as she felt her employer was not protecting her”.

Judge Ben du Plessis said the company acted reasonably regarding the situation after Mokone reported it to the HR department.

However, he said the problem should have been addressed earlier, when she first told her superiors about it.

The company should have had management and disciplinary structures to immediately and effectively have dealt with the complaint, he added.

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