SAA CEO’s suspension: Focus on spy cameras, sexual harassment

By Chris Spillane

(Bloomberg) — South African Airways suspended its chief executive officer over allegations that included the use of company equipment to record colleagues in his fight against a sexual harassment claim, documents seen by Bloomberg show. Airline

Monwabisi Kalawe asked SAA security staff to install cameras and recording devices in his own office, according to a report from the company that a person familiar with the matter said was filed at Cape Town’s Labour Court Wednesday. The contents, of which the bugging allegations are just one aspect, will be made public today, the person said.

“Mr Kalawe explained to the security team that he had concerns regarding a potential sexual harassment charge from one of the female SAA staff and needed to protect himself,” the 90- page document says.

The airline’s security team acquired three devices costing a total of 18,000 rand ($1,520) at Kalawe’s request, according to the report: a desk-top clock concealing a motion-activated camera and recording gear, a pinhole camera with microphone, and video-recording equipment disguised as a vehicle keyring.

After discussing Kalawe’s request, a member of the security staff sent the CEO a text message saying “Yikes Sire, this is crazy,” according to the document, which is dated Feb. 12 and headlined as a “forensic investigation into various allegations at South African Airways.”

Kalawe had understood the remark to be a reference to the harassment claim, the report says. The executive also said when questioned that he’d asked for existing closed-circuit cameras to be extended to his office and didn’t realize new gear had been bought until being asked to approve the expense, it says.

Other allegations against Kalawe include corruption, invasion of privacy and hiring a friend on an inflated salary, two people familiar with the inquiry said last month.

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