SA diplomat attacks colleague

2010-05-14 17:36

Johannesburg - A senior South African diplomat has assaulted a female colleague at the South African Embassy in Harare, the Public Servants Association (PSA) alleged on Friday.

Spokesperson Manie de Clercq said the diplomat, whose name was being withheld, allegedly attacked Lyn de Jong, head of corporate services at the embassy for several minutes in her office last Friday (May 7).

"Four of Ms De Jong's colleagues, responding to her screams, managed to pull (the diplomat) away from her where she was lying on the floor."

"Once in the passage, he continued to threaten her by shouting: 'I am not done with you, I am going to finish you off'."

De Jong suffered several injuries, including a swollen face, eyes and ears and bruises on her back and chest.

De Jong was allegedly also assaulted by the same diplomat in June 2009. De Clercq said she decided not to take action against him then and that it was not as serious as the latest incident.

"(She) was convinced by the then department of foreign affairs to drop the case and 'make peace and in the interest of the mission to resolve the matter quietly'."

She had not laid any criminal charges against him for Friday's attack.

Diplomatic immunity

"We do not want her to lay criminal charges in Zimbabwe because then he will be protected by diplomatic immunity."

"We will assist her in laying the charges in South Africa on Monday."

De Clercq said as far as he knew no action was being taken against the diplomat. De Jong was not available for interviews herself.

The attack was apparently caused by a "whistle-blowing" incident.

"De Jong and some of her colleagues were not happy with his conduct."

De Clercq said the PSA had been in contact with senior staff members of the department and was appalled by the incident.

"The PSA condemns this type of conduct, especially by a senior official representing our country, in the strongest possible terms. We are writing to the minister demanding the strongest possible action in line with the seriousness of the matter to also ensure the personal safety of Ms De Jong," De Clercq said.

International relations and co-operation department spokesperson Saul Molobi was not aware of the assault on Friday afternoon.

"Because of network problems, we are unable to contact our embassy in Zimbabwe."

He said if there had been violence, the department would use its internal human resources policies to resolve the matter.

The South African embassy in Harare could not be reached on Friday afternoon.