Municipal employee attaches council properties over sexual harassment

2011-12-21 08:42

A municipal employee from Mpumalanga has begun attaching council properties to recoup her legal costs after the Northern Gauteng High Court found that a former municipal manager had subjected her to sexual harassment.

An administration clerk in Dr JS Moroka Municipality, Ester Mahlangu-Mathibela, served the municipality with a warrant of execution this week to attach properties to the value of R539 000 for her legal costs.

This comes after the council on December 2 failed to extricate itself from paying R1.3 million in damages to Mahlangu-Mathibela after Judge Jody Kollapen found that former municipal manager George Mthimunye subjected her to sexual harassment from 1998 to 2001.

The council wanted Mthimunye to pay the damages alone as he was not acting in the course and scope of his duties, and argued that the case was not about the council’s failure to implement policies, programmes and interventions to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.

The council’s application for leave to appeal the judgment was turned down. Mthimunye’s application was also denied.

Attempts to get comment from Dr JS Municipality executive mayor Tiny Mthimunye (not related) and acting municipal manager Benjamin Mabena were unsuccessful as they did not answer their phones.

Mahlangu-Mathibela’s husband, Steve Mathibela, said: “The sheriff has served the municipality with the warrant of execution just for our legal costs. We still have to get an indication from them on how they want to pay the damages.”

Mthimunye was recently employed as municipal manager of Naledi local municipality, Vryburg, in North West where former Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Sicelo Shiceka had deployed him to turn its fortunes around.

Naledi municipal spokesperson Obakeng Mathube said Mthimunye’s contract was not renewed when it expired in August.

Mthimunye has declined to comment about this matter.

He was in the headlines last year after police unravelled a plot to assassinate him for stopping an R86 million housing tender to build 470 low-cost homes by companies linked to ANC leaders in the area.

Mahlangu-Mathibela said she was happy that the ordeal – which forced her to seek psychological counselling as Mthimunye had subjected her to disciplinary hearings every month – was over.

“It’s been a very traumatic experience and without my husband’s support, I’d not be able to carry on this far,” she said.

“I’d have surrendered a very long time ago, but it helped that (Mthimunye) was losing each and every case with costs. The judgment is out now, but the council is still dragging its feet to pay.”

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