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Primedia CEO denies friendship with former exec accused of sexual misconduct

The company says it received three complaints from staff members in the sales department last week regarding the behaviour of Mark Jakins at a recent staff function.

Primedia Broadcasting CEO Omar Essack. Picture: Primedia.

JOHANNESBURG – Primedia Broadcasting's CEO Omar Essack has rubbished reports that he’s friends with a former senior executive who is accused of sexual misconduct.

The company says it received three complaints from staff members in the sales department last week regarding the behaviour of Mark Jakins at a recent staff function.

Speaking to Bongani Bingwa on 702 on Wednesday morning, Essack denied that he protected Jakins.

“No, that’s categorically untrue, I’m not a personal friend of Mark Jakins. I have known him for a very long time and so many of Mark's fellow team members. But yes, I recruited him to the company.”

He’s also denied that he received warning about the former executive before and ignored them.

“Not a single complaint came to me. So, there’s a suggestion that’s circulating on social media that implies that I was informed prior to this particular incident and I have to make it abundantly clear to everyone that it’s the first time I got to know about this incident, this sort of behaviour.”

Essack has denied protecting Jakins.

“Just in terms of process, pace, speed and efficiency, we’ve to balance and respect the privacy and dignity of our staff with fairness of the legal processes that we’ve. It’s all enshrined in our code of conduct that we all sign up to when we work.”

He also says he never received emails warning him about the former executive's behaviour.

“I must be abundantly clear because this accusation was made, I had the CIO of the company forensically check emails that were sent to me and I can categorically state that there was not a single email alleging any behaviour about this particular executive.”

Meanwhile, the Commission for Gender Equality says although Jakins resigned on Monday before the investigation against him could conclude, Primedia still has the responsibility to ensure justice for his victims.

Spokesperson Jabu Baloyi says: “Omar Essack is wrong. The matter can be escalated to the police by the employer in view of protecting the employees. He can report it. It happened when the person was still their employee.”

Jakins resigned from the company on Monday before the investigation against him concluded and he's been unavailable for comment.

LISTEN: Primedia Broadcasting exec quits over gross misconduct claims

Eyewitness News is owned by Primedia Broadcasting.

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