Sex case just disappears

2017-02-05 06:05

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Mbombela - A senior civil servant who lost a sexual harassment suit in his previous job has faced a similar case in his new job in the Mpumalanga legislature.

The provincial legislature kept the allegation against corporate services executive manager George Mthimunye under wraps when the incident was reported in June last year.

The complainant – a manager whose name is known to City Press – first tried lodging a complaint with the legislature’s senior management, but she was allegedly snubbed.

She then approached the Commission on Gender Equality (CGE), which confirmed the complaint after City Press used the Promotion of Access to Information Act (Paia) to gain access to the documents.

Mthimunye allegedly made sexual overtures to her during a strategic planning meeting at a hotel near Sabie, Mpumalanga, in November 2015.

He also allegedly did the same a few weeks later when the legislature was in Johannesburg to participate in the interprovincial legislature games.

He also allegedly continued with his advances in January last year.

Amicably resolved

“In terms of the Commission on Gender Equality Gazetted Complaints Manual, we are required to send an allegation letter to the respondent within 10 days after the complaint has been accepted by the commission.

"We received this complaint on June 29 2016. An allegation letter was consequently sent to the respondent on June 30 2016,” said Commission on Gender Equality chief executive officer Keketso Maema in response to our Paia application.

“The CGE can confirm that ... the matter has since been amicably resolved between the parties concerned.

"We have no legal mandate over this matter any more as it is closed on the instructions of the complainant,” CGE spokesperson, said Javu Baloyi.

The woman refused to explain to City Press her reasons for withdrawing her case and whether that had anything to do with a new position with better perks, known to City Press, given to her in September last year by the legislature following the withdrawal.

The position was not advertised.

In a telephone conversation, she said:

“Where did you get my number? I respect your job because it puts food on the table, but I’m not going to answer anything to the media. So, I’ll drop this call.”

Mpumalanga legislature spokesperson Zamagambu Gamede denied that the victim laid a complaint with the legislature.

“There has never been a complaint laid with the legislature regarding the matter you are raising,” she said.

Text messages

But a source who is a legislature official insisted that the case had been lodged with the legislature’s senior human resources manager, Thembela Manciya, on December 2 2015.

City Press saw a copy of the document.

On the victim’s new job, Gamede argued that the legislature had an “open mind” about the growth of its personnel.

“Unless you provide the evidence [relating to the victim’s offer of a new job], we can’t look into that matter.”

When approached for comment on January 27, Mthimunye said he was in a meeting.

On Thursday, he did not respond to text messages and questions.

The first time Mthimunye was accused of sexual harassment was when he was manager of Dr JS Moroka municipality in Siyabuswa, where he sexually harassed a senior clerk, Esther Mahlangu-Mathibela, from 1998 to 2001.

In February 2011, North Gauteng High Court Judge Jody Kollapen ruled that Mthimunye had sexually harassed Mahlangu-Mathibela.

Winning lawsuit

Kollapen ordered both Mthimunye and the Dr JS Moroka council to compensate Mahlangu-Mathibela for damages.

Despite this judgment, Mthimunye got a job as Emalahleni municipal manager following a stint at the Naledi local municipality in Vryburg.

Emalahleni workers attacked him and forced him to resign in 2013.

He was then appointed in the provincial legislature. It is unclear whether Mthimunye paid towards Mahlangu-Mathibela’s compensation – which cost the taxpayer about R4 million.

According to Mahlangu-Mathibela’s husband, Steve, he did not.

Dr JS Moroka municipal spokesperson Maserata Ramatsetse did not respond to questions texted to her on Wednesday and failed to return calls.

Mahlangu-Mathibela is now fighting for her reinstatement in the labour court, despite winning the lawsuit.

Read more on:    mbombela  |  sexual harassment

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