Whistleblower Policy

1. Introduction

Sonke is committed to complying with all applicable laws, rules and regulations, including those related to sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment, accounting, auditing and prohibits fraudulent practices by any of its board members, employees, interns, volunteers and Community Action Team (CAT) members.

2. Purpose of the policy

This policy outlines a procedure for employees to report any action that an employee reasonably believes violates a law, or regulation or that constitutes fraudulent, criminal and/or abusive practices.

3. Scope of application

This policy applies to all employees, interns, and volunteers working at Sonke, including CAT Members. All consultants and contractors shall also adhere to this policy and if it is found that they have engaged in activities related to sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment, including activities related to defrauding the organisation; criminal charges shall be brought against them.

4. Key concepts to understand

4.1. Anonymity and confidentiality

This policy provides a way for employees to express complaints anonymously. Sonke will make every effort to ensure anonymity and protection of the employee making the complaint. However, if it’s found that anonymity may hinder an investigation of the complaint, the name of the employee shall be revealed to the Chairperson of the Board and/or Co- Executive Directors only. Otherwise, the policy promises confidentiality to the extent that is possible.

4.2. Good faith

This policy is based on employees acting in good faith to report concerns that they have reason to believe are true.

4.3. No retaliation

Employees must be assured that Sonke will adopt zero-tolerance towards retaliation, and that any employee who reports possible violations in good faith will not experience abuse, harassment, threats, discrimination or any adverse employment consequences as a result. Any employee, director, manager or supervisor who retaliates against an employee who reports a suspected violation will be subjected to disciplinary action.

5. Procedure to report activities that violate this policy

If an employee has reasonable belief that another employee of Sonke has engaged in any action that violates any law or regulation, Sonke’s H.R. policies and procedures; including financial policies and standard operating procedures, the employee is expected to report such information to the anonymous email address and SMS number that is on Sonke’s website.

All reports shall be followed up promptly by the Chairperson of the Board HR Sub-Committee; an investigation shall be conducted and completed within 7 days of it being reported. Upon completion of the investigation, if it is found that the organisations policies have been transgressed and that any of the following has taken place sexual exploitation, abuse, harassment and/or fraud a disciplinary hearing shall be convened. (Refer to the Disciplinary Policy on procedures that will be followed hereafter).

In the event of an employee deciding to report a matter directly to the Chairperson of the Board, the co-executive directors or a manager, Sonke shall not retaliate against this employee or unilaterally change terms and conditions of employment because the employee reported the matter because they believed in good faith it was a violation of the law and/or policies of the organisation, and/or participates in good faith in any investigation or related proceedings.

Sonke may take disciplinary action (up to and including dismissal) against an employee who in management’s assessment engages in retaliatory conduct that is in violation of this policy.

6. Examples of behaviour that violates this policy

This policy serves only as a guideline and the circumstances of each case shall be dealt with independently. The list is not exhaustive and disciplinary action may be taken against an employee in terms of other rules, which are reasonable to expect from an employee to comply with in the employment relationship.

6.1. Fraudulent claims and reporting:

6.1.1. Claiming per diems when not entitled to;

6.1.2. Claiming extra mileage when using personal vehicles for work purposes;

6.1.3. False reporting in trip reports and organisational reports on the number of individuals attending workshops/seminars/events that are organised by Sonke;

6.1.4. Claiming higher taxi fares/travel allowance than is required for work related trips;

6.1.5. Falsely claiming reimbursements for catering at Sonke events;

6.1.6. Claiming for calls made from personal phones that are not related to work;

6.1.7. Producing invoices not related to Sonke’s work and expecting to be reimbursed;

6.2. Behaviour Constituting Abuse, Sexual Exploitation, Harassment, and Discrimination:

The following behaviour constitutes sexual exploitation:

6.2.1. Rape;

6.2.2. Sexual abuse;

6.2.3. Sexual assault;

6.2.4. Sexual harassment;

6.2.5. Sexual bribery.

6.3. Behaviour Constituting Abuse

6.3.1. Physical abuse includes hitting, slapping, punching, burning, misuse of medication, inappropriate restraint;

6.3.2. Sexual abuse: includes rape, indecent assault, inappropriate touching, exposure to pornographic material;

6.3.3. Psychological or emotional abuse: includes belittling, name calling, threats of harm, intimidation, isolation;

6.3.4. Financial or material abuse: includes stealing, selling assets, fraud, misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits;

6.3.5. Neglect and acts of omission: includes withholding the necessities of life such as medication, food or warmth, ignoring medical or physical care needs;

6.3.6. Institutional or organisational abuse: includes regimented routines and cultures, unsafe practices, lack of person-centred care or treatment.

6.4. Harassment

Harassment refers to when someone is treated unfairly, or discriminated against because they belong to a particular group of people or have a particular characteristic. Discrimination can be based on the following:

6.3.1. Race;

6.3.2. Gender;

6.3.3. Sex;

6.3.4. Ethnic or social origin;

6.3.5. Sexual orientation;

6.3.6. Age;

6.3.7. Disability;

6.3.8. Religion;

6.3.9. HIV status;

6.3.10. Political opinion;

6.3.11. Culture, language; and

6.3.12. Any other arbitrary grounds.

6.4. Behaviour constituting bullying

The following behaviour constitutes bullying:

6.4.1. Verbal bullying: Slandering, ridiculing or maligning a person or his or her family; persistent name calling that is hurtful, insulting or humiliating; using a person as the butt of jokes and abusive and offensive remarks;

6.4.2. Physical bullying: Pushing, shoving, kicking, poking, tripping, assault or threat of physical assault, damage to a person’s work area or property;

6.4.3. Gesture bullying: Nonverbal threatening gestures; glances that can convey threatening messages;

6.4.4. Writing (e.g. via email, internet chat rooms, instant messaging and text messaging);

6.4.5. Socially or​​ physically excluding or disregarding a person in work-related activities.

Others forms of bullying behaviour

6.4.6. Intimidating, hostile or threatening behaviour;

6.4.7. Humiliating someone through sarcasm or insults;

6.4.8. Undue criticism;

6.4.9. Spreading misinformation or malicious rumours;

6.4.10. Deliberately withholding or denying access to information, supervision, consultation or resources that are necessary for effective work performance, resulting in detrimental effects to the employee;

6.4.11. Setting unreasonable timelines or constantly changing deadlines;

6.4.12. Unreasonably overloading a person with work, or not providing enough work;

6.4.13. Setting tasks that are unreasonably below or beyond a person’s skill level;

6.4.14. Giving someone most unpleasant tasks; and proper treatment in relation to accessing workplace entitlements, such as leave or training.

7. Conclusion

Sonke will not take any action against any employee who has provided to law enforcement personnel or a court of law, truthful information relating to a commission on any of its employees of a violation of any applicable law or regulation.