Marchers protest sex for grants

2013-02-01 00:00

RESIDENTS in Umtshezi Municipality in Estcourt marched to the municipal buildings yesterday to hand over a memorandum of grievances following reports that one of its managers was caught in a sex-for-grants scheme.

A leader of the march, Sihle Mbhele, said the memorandum, which was handed to municipal manager Nonhlanhla Njoko, related to the sex-for-grants claims and service delivery grievances.

Mbhele said it was unacceptable that the municipality had turned a blind eye to the issue of one of its managers who was alleged to have sexually abused young women in exchange for grants and bursaries.

“These young girls have nothing. They are hard hit by unemployment and poverty and you have this man taking advantage of that.

“We want the municipal manager to take action. People are scared to report abuse by municipal officials. In Umtshezi, exposing an official is tantamount to signing your death warrant.”

The manager tendered his resignation after the allegations came to light.

The Witness spoke to an alleged victim, who said she was still shaking after her ordeal two weeks ago, when she went to apply for a bursary and was directed to the office of one of the managers.

“In the office, he got too close to me and told me that there’s a fee for a bursary. I asked him how much and he said I was unemployed so I could not afford the price.”

The woman described how the man tried to fondle her.

“He then raped me. I was terrified. I ran away and never reported the matter. I only told my mother and I also went to the clinic.”

Asked whether she had opened a case, the woman said: “We are scared to report to the police because people get killed when exposing abuse by municipal officials”.

Another woman said she too wanted a bursary and the man told her that the list was full. However, he said he could make an exception for her.

“When he got too close for my liking I pushed him with all my might and ran away. I decided never to go to the municipality for any sort of help in future,” she said.

Weekend Witness reported that the manager in question and a young woman were allegedly caught having sex by a municipal official last week.

A source in the municipality, who is not allowed to speak to the media, said the man was in charge of disbursing funds for a municipal project.

At the time, municipal manager Njoko and Mayor Bongani Dlamini both denied any knowledge of the matter.

However, yesterday Njoko confirmed the manager’s resignation. Attempts to get comment from the man yesterday were unsuccessful.

“I can confirm that we are still processing his resignation. He is still serving his notice …

“With regard to the allegations of the sex-for-grants, I haven’t received any formal complaints from those making the allegations.”

Co-operative Governance spokesperson Lennox Mabaso said he could comment only once the allegations were reported to relevant law enforcement agencies.

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