Municipality scrambles to pay sexual harassment costs

2012-12-12 13:25

An Mpumalanga municipality had to scramble for cash again as a victim of sexual harassment was about to attach its properties to recoup her legal and counselling costs to the value of about R3.8 million.

The Dr JS Moroka Municipality in Siyabuswa paid R358 000 yesterday afternoon as the sheriff of the court was about to attach its properties.

The municipality has paid a total of R1.1 million on two previous occasions under the same threat this year as its senior administration clerk, Ester Mahlangu-Mathibela, demands payment after the Northern Gauteng High Court had found in her favour in February last year.

Judge Jody Kollapen found that former municipal manager, George Mthimunye, had sexually harassed Mahlangu-Mathibela from 1998 to 2001.

The court’s judgment also bound the municipality, and it failed in its court attempt to extricate itself from liability because it claimed Mthimunye was not acting in the scope of his duties.

Mahlangu-Mathibela initially claimed R1.3 million for damages but the claim is expected to escalate to about R5 million after all actuary reports that determine future loss of earnings and trauma had been considered.

Mthimunye used taxpayers’ money to defend himself while Mahlangu-Mathibela and her husband, Steve, emptied their pockets to see justice done.

There is, however, no sign that Mthimunye will pay even though mayor Tiny Mthimunye (not related) received legal advice from the Nkangala District Municipality’s legal team that the former manager should carry at least half of the costs.

City Press has a copy of the council minutes, which Dr JS Moroka municipal manager Zamani Mcineka has denied knowledge of and failed to respond when a copy was emailed to him.

“I regret to inform you that as Dr JS Moroka municipality, we are not aware of the legal advice you are referring to. In fact, there is no such, hence I have no comments to your inquiry,” Mcineka said.

The council resolution reads: “Council resolved that the matter of (Mahlangu-Mathibela) be dealt with in accordance with the recommendations of the (Nkangala District Municipality’s) legal advice/representative.

“Council to consider the possibility of recording half a share of the cost from the first defendant (Mthimunye). Expert witnesses be appointed as a matter of urgency, including but not limited to an industrial psychologist and actuary to be able to (dispute) or at least defend the expert opinions of the employee’s witnesses that she is entitled to damages in excess of R1 million.”

Mthimunye has indicated that he would not want to comment about the matter.

Mthimunye is politically well connected and has been enjoying protection from the ANC. The party’s deployment committee ensured that he was employed as municipal manager of Emalahleni municipality this year despite the Northern Gauteng High Court’s judgment.

Nkangala ANC secretary Tommy Nkoana said the ANC would be “judgmental” and “passing a verdict” if it stopped George’s employment to Emalahleni.

Emalahleni spokesperson Lebohang Mofokeng said Mthimunye was vetted before he was employed.

“As for the allegations against him it is his word against the media, we cannot comment on those allegations,” said Mofokeng.

Mthimunye resigned from Dr JS Moroka Municipality in 2001. The late cooperative governance and traditional affairs minister Sicelo Shiceka deployed him to revive the Naledi Local Municipality in Vryburg, North West, where he also became municipal manager.

Mahlangu-Mathibela said that after she had repeatedly snubbed George’s sexual overtures, she was grounded in the municipal kitchen for three years and given no work to do.

She was also bad-mouthed and humiliated in front of colleagues and her career growth was sabotaged.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Reporting Accountant

Cape Town
Network Finance Professional / Prudential
R310 000.00 - R360 000.00 Per Year

IT Manager (contract)

Cape Town CBD
Communicate Cape Town IT
R330 000.00 - R458 000.00 Per Year

Cluster Financial Manager

Cape Town
Network Finance
R950 000.00 - R1 000 000.00 Per Year

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.