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Peshoane investigated for sexual harassment

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…as a sextet of TRC women sing sexual harassment to police

Nthatuoa Koeshe

Transformation Resource Centre (TRC)’s Executive Director Tsikoane Peshoane faces sexual assault charges, this after last night’s laying of charges against him by a sextet of his junior employees.

A collaboration of NewsDay and MNN Centre for Investigative Journalism learned the six women took turns yesterday telling police tales of how Peshoane used his power as Executive Director to sexually harass them with impunity for months.

The development was confirmed by Police Spokesperson Senior Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli, who said police have just initiated their investigations into the alleged sexual harassment charges laid against the TRC Executive Director by the women following their report to police.

The women’s sexual charges against Peshoane come at the height of an internal investigation into alleged corruption, labor rights abuse, abuse of power and abuse of donor funds (see article below).

TRC’s employees petitioned the TRC Board on February 1 to remove Peshoane from the helm of the rights group organization with immediate effect.

The employees’ petition to the board laid a nuanced account of how Peshoane as the Executive Director went against the ideals and principles of accountability, transparency and human rights protection that the organization espoused.

Now, while an inquiry instituted by the board is underway, a sextet of women claiming to have been sexually harassed by Peshoane laid charges with the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS).

One of Peshoane’s sexual harassment accusers who spoke anonymously for fear of reprisals, told this publication that when she reported Peshoane’s behavior she was told by her immediate supervisors [name withheld] that “a vagina does not have mileage, plus that person [Peshoane] would not be boring a new hole on you”.

The women claimed Peshoane would constantly make sexual comments which made them feel uncomfortable or touch them in ways they detested such as brushing his genitalia against their buttocks while holding them from behind.

Another woman said Peshoane locked her in his office, and then started his sexual advances on her.

“After locking the door, he touched me and fondled my breasts and it went as far as taking off his clothes, thus displaying his genitalia.

“He put his hands into my panties and touched my vagina and I resisted by tightening my thighs. This he did after calling me to his office.

“At some point in time, he had stuck his tongue into my ear and was breathing heavily to my ears in an attempt to seduce me,” said another woman who refused to be named.

The lady further said Peshoane would threaten her whenever she resisted and this ended up with her contract of employment with TRC not being renewed.

Another lady said Peshoane would demand that she seats next to him in meetings and he would start touching her thighs or caressing her inner hand.

Attempts to get hold of Peshoane were fruitless as his mobile phone was unavailable while another was constantly busy.

“He looked at me in a disgusting way all the time. He would also pawn us to his male counterparts during crucial meetings and or parties with stakeholders,” another woman said.

According to the Sexual Offences Act of 2003 a sexual act means “direct or indirect contact with the anus, breasts, penis, buttocks, thighs or vagina of one person and any other part of the body of another person; or exposure or display of the genital organs of one person to another person”.

And the Act interprets coercive circumstances to include but not limited to any circumstances where: “there is an application of force, whether explicit or implicit, direct or indirect, physical or psychological against any person or animal”.

Some of the claims leveled against Peshoane include alleged incidents whose punishment according to the sexual offences Act could see him imprisoned for eight years if found guilty by a court of law in accordance with the said Act.

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