As part of our Spotlight on rape initiative, John Maytham speaks to Sipho Mpongo about his sexual harassment case and how he managed to restore his dignity.
Sipho was found guilty of sexual harassment at the University of Cape Town and was charged with 65 hours of community service.
Mpongo says at first he did not understand why he was being accused of sexual harassment, because what he did seemed normal to him. he had believed that was what normally happens between a man and a woman.
We were at school by the ladies toilets. she grabbed my hand and pulled me into the toilets and I thought it was ok for me to kiss and touch her.— Sipho Mpongo
She said she was uncomfortable with me doing all these things to her, but in my mind i didn't think I was being wrong.— Sipho Mpongo
I decided to take a step back and respect her decision— Sipho Mpongo
Listen to the full conversation below:
Mpongo says his classmate then decided to report him for sexual harassment, which resulted in him being charged with 65 hours of community service.
Mpongo says he took what happened to him as an opportunity to find out why his classmate felt the way that she did while he had thought it was fine to kiss and embrace her.
I decided to do community service outside school at the rehabilitation centre in Gugulethu, which deals with this kind of matters.— Sipho Mpongo
I am working with people that went through the same problems that I went through and others who experienced the worst.— Sipho Mpongo
Sipho says he is grateful that he got to learn valuable lessons at an early stage in his life and has made a decision not to contribute to the ongoing crisis in society.