GDSD compromises employee safety by hiring alleged ‘sex pest’ to do forensic audits

Issued by Refiloe Nt’sekhe MPL – DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Social Development
28 Mar 2024 in Press Statements

Note to editors: Please find English soundbite by Refiloe Nt’sekhe  MPL.

The Gauteng Department of Social Development (GDSD) has hired someone, who according to media reports, has historically faced allegations of sexual harassment to conduct forensic audits on its suspended senior officials. This is a concerning situation, as it may put the safety and well-being of employees at risk.

The MEC for Social Development, Mbali Hlophe, revealed this information in response to an oral inquiry concerning her knowledge of her department’s hiring of Vernon Naidoo as a member of the forensic audit team despite allegations that he is a sex pest.

MEC Hlophe claimed she was unaware of Naidoo’s contracting and suggested it was not her responsibility to hire forensic auditors.

It appears that MEC Hlophe has established a pattern of deflecting blame onto others whenever worrying matters arise in her department. We saw this when the issue of granting nearly R56 million in grants to two skill development organisations, Beauty Hub Academy and Daracorp, emerged. Instead of taking responsibility and accountability, the MEC passed the buck to departmental officials.

The MEC’s failure to take charge of her department has resulted in employees being put in a vulnerable position, as they are now working alongside someone who has been accused of serious sexual misconduct.

The DA demands that MEC Hlophe get her house in order and, for once, be decisive by terminating the department’s contract with Naidoo, whose reputation could compromise the investigation into the 13 senior suspended officials of the department. We also urge that Naidoo be quickly replaced to avoid further delays in the disciplinary hearings, which were supposed to have been completed by now, having begun as early as September 2023—about 180 days ago.

The department’s failure to vet Naidoo is deeply concerning in a province devastated by femicide. The DA remains committed to advocating for the shielding of women from sexual harassment and coercion in the workplace.

Soon, Gauteng voters will have the opportunity to choose wisely when casting their ballots: they can choose between electing leaders who will tolerate those allegedly embroiled in sexual scandals and those who will sever all relations with them.