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Woman slams colleague with R2m defamation suit over alleged HIV gossip

Woman slams colleague with R2m defamation suit over alleged HIV gossip
Pretoria - Alleged office gossip that an employee at a government entity was “infected with the HIV virus” and spreading it because she was promiscuous, has forced her to institute a R2 million defamation case against the “gossiper”.

The parties are not named to safeguard the identity of the alleged victim. She stated in papers before the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, that she was devastated by the rumours.

These allegations were making her life a nightmare.

It first surfaced in November 2011 when a colleague told others the plaintiff had confided in her that she was HIV positive.

Apparently the colleague said the plaintiff was promiscuous and intentionally trying to infect others.

The woman allegedly warned people to stay away from the plaintiff.

She said the statements made at her workplace were wrong and defamatory, because everyone would believe she wanted to harm others by infecting them.

The plaintiff said she was extremely upset and hurt by the gossip, and she lodged a complaint with human resources (HR).

But, she said, the woman who spread the gossip told her if she wanted to prove her innocence, she would be compelled by HR to undergo an HIV test.

The two women were also called in by their supervisor who reprimanded them for having a “loud argument” in their open-plan office. They were told to resolve their issues.

The plaintiff said she subsequently decided to withdraw her complaint.

But, she said, the gossip continued and this time her colleague told others she had a sexual relationship with one of the top officials, “in spite of being HIV positive”.

The plaintiff said she was so distressed that she had to take sick leave.

In 2013, the plaintiff lodged a sexual harassment complaint against a male colleague.

She said when the initial “gossiper” heard about this, she again told people that she was HIV positive.

“She also said I was an evil and promiscuous person trying to cause harm to the marriage and family of the male employee.”

She again instituted a complaint against the initial “gossiper”, but because she withdrew the previous charge, HR responded to the complaint by only saying “noted”.

“No apology was received,” she stated.

According to the plaintiff, her colleague continued to badmouth her, and last year the woman posted on Facebook that the plaintiff suffered from HIV/Aids; she was promiscuous; and she intentionally infected men.

The colleague also subsequently told a top official that the plaintiff was stalking her and that she was “a very dangerous person”.

The plaintiff said she could no longer handle the badmouthing.

She also obtained a restraining order against her colleague.

She told the court this week she was battling to serve the court papers on the colleague, because the Sheriff could not get hold of the woman.

The court ordered the summons could be served via Google Mail or Facebook.

Pretoria News