Municipality silent on sexual harassment claim

2012-10-26 13:00

A Mpumalanga municipality won’t clarify if it will force its former municipal manager to contribute toward payment of a sexual harassment damages claim to an employee.

Senior clerk Ester Mahlangu-Mathibela has successfully sued former Dr JS Moroka municipal manager George Mthimunye for sexual harassment from 1998 to 2001.

The February 2011 judgment, however, also bound the council, which was the second respondent. The council’s application for it to be extricated from paying was turned down.

It argued that Mthimunye had harassed Mahlangu-Mathibela not while acting in the course and scope of his duties.

To date, the municipality has incurred costs of just more than R1 million to pay Mahlangu-Mathibela’s legal and counselling fees after she took legal steps to have council properties attached on at least two occasions.

Mahlangu-Mathibela initially claimed R1.3 million in the North Gauteng High Court.

The court is, however, still deliberating on actuarial reports to determine how much she should be paid.

The costs are expected to be close to R5 million.

In a written response, Dr JS Moroka municipal manager ZW Mcineka declined to say if the council would claim anything from Mthimunye.

“As you and your newspaper are privy to the contents of the court order, [the court] issued the order against the municipality as the second defendant on the matter. Therefore, [the council] as the law-abiding institution has to and complied with the court order,” Mcineka said.

The court order said both Mthimunye and the council have to pay jointly or severally.

Mahlangu-Mathibela said she had been grounded in the municipal kitchen for three years, bad-mouthed and humiliated in front of colleagues and her career growth stunted.

Mthimunye is now employed as the municipal manager of the Emalahleni (formerly Witbank) council.

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