SA National Parks (SANParks) CEO Fundisile Mketeni (55) and his two colleagues have been acquitted of sexual harassment and assault charges.
The Bushbuckridge Magistrates’ Court has found Mketeni, head of socioeconomic transformation (53) and risk manager Danny Thwala (29) not guilty of assaulting a 35-year-old woman on May 6.
National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson in Mpumalanga Monica Nyuswa said that the case was concluded on Monday.
“They were found not guilty and [the case was] discharged,” Nyuswa said.
The complainant, who is an employee of Kruger Shalati Lodge, claimed that Mketeni touched her inappropriately and, when she rejected his sexual advances, he assaulted her. She also claimed that Mkefe and Thwala also assaulted her after she ran out of Mketeni’s bedroom at Skukuza.
She said that she had been introduced to Mketeni by a friend at a restaurant and they had all visited Mketeni’s house in Skukuza.
Mketeni, she alleged, asked to speak to her in private, and when she resisted, he assaulted her.
She told City Press that they left her there, scared and alone, and she had to climb a fence and call a colleague who came to her rescue. The woman also said that she feared for her life after this incident.
The CEO’s lawyer Advocate Adriana Bevilacqua said that, when Mketeni first appeared in the Skukuza Magistrates’ Court on June 2, a “multitude” of allegations against the complainant came up.
Bevilacqua said that some of the pending serious charges levelled against her were extortion, for allegedly targeting and blackmailing high-profile individuals in exchange for financial rewards.
Bevilacqua said that Mketeni felt it was unfortunate that such attempts to discredit his impeccable character had surfaced when he was tirelessly working to implement transformation in the environmental sector and dealing with poaching.