More trouble for controversial Methodist pastor

Rev Vukile Mehana
Rev Vukile Mehana

Being chastised and barred from leading the ANC’s service during the party’s 107 birthday celebrations for the derogatory manner in which he spoke about women may not be the only punishment ANC Chaplain-General Reverend Vukile Mehana has to worry about.

Non-profit organisation Sonke Gender Justice will this week be adding to his woes with its plan to write formal letters to the ANC, the Methodist church, the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and other institutions where the disgraced reverend holds public offices, calling on them “to sack Mehana or take strong remedial actions”.

“We have noted Mehana’s apology. However, this is not enough for someone of his stature.

“We will be calling on the Methodist church in particular to follow through on its promise to investigate the matter and to initiate remedial action that will send a strong message to others that this type of behaviour is unacceptable,” said Bafana Khumalo, director of strategic partnerships at Sonke.

Mehana made headlines after an audio recording doing the rounds on social media revealed a conversation between him and fellow Methodist Church member Raymond Sibanga expressing sexist views about women in the ministry.

Sonke Gender Justice spokesperson Patrick Godana said “the comments were not only disrespectful to women in church ministry but to all women in general. Therefore, stronger action needs to be taken against Mehana.”

Responding to the calls made by Sonke, UKZN’s acting executive director for corporate relations, Normah Zondo, said the matter had been referred to the next meeting of the university’s council for guidance on whether any further action should be taken against the reverend.

She added that the university “notes with regret the comments on social and popular media attributed to Reverend Vukile Mehana, chair of the UKZN council. We also note Rev Mehana’s remorseful apology to his friends and colleagues in the church, as well as society in general, in which he acknowledged the hurt of his comments as both ‘careless’ and ‘inappropriate’”.

Zondo said that the university was strongly committed to all principles and values enshrined in the Constitution and, in particular, to the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms as well as non-racialism and non-sexism.

“The university has further advanced these principles by adopting a UKZN pact which promotes mutual respect, responsibility and excellence in teaching and learning,” she said.

Adding to Mehana’s woes, communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams also looked into 19-year-old allegations of embezzlement that were levelled against Mehana. This is after social media comments alleged that the reverend would not face any action since he had already gotten away with looting over a billion rands from the SA Post Office when he was a director.

City Press broke the story in September 2000 that Mehana, then senior general manager for human resources and transformation, and his general manager, Pieter Engelbrecht, had allegedly handed hundreds of millions of rands in lucrative contracts to their pals and in turn received kickbacks for their services.

This arose out of preliminary findings of a top-level financial and forensic audit carried out 19 years ago.

Ndabeni-Abrahams, however, found that an investigation was instituted and there was insufficient evidence and information for a prosecution to be instituted.

When City Press reached out to Mehana for comment, he refused to do so, saying whatever comment publications had received from the communications department should suffice.

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