'I was absolutely humiliated' – DA councillor candidate after alleged toilet interview

(Gallo Images)
(Gallo Images)

Despite being "absolutely humiliated" by being interviewed for a position as a DA councillor in the toilet of an East London golf club, Ntombenhle Rulumeni refuses to turn her back on the party she is suing for R12.9m.

"If I leave, it looks like I did something wrong. And I did not," she told News24 on Monday.

Rulumeni, a member of the DA since 2011, claims that the party humiliated her, undermined her dignity and was responsible for a loss of income totalling almost R3m.

She instituted civil proceedings against the party, putting a R10m price tag on her ordeal.

The matter was heard in the Eastern Cape High Court local division in East London last month. It was postponed to March next year for a site inspection.

Rulumeni alleged that she was interviewed for a position as ward councillor ahead of the 2016 local government elections in a toilet of the East London Golf Club after her initial application was unsuccessful.

Bathroom interview conducted by senior officials 

Rulumeni was "surprised and shocked" when she was told that she was found to have lied about raising funds for the party, and that her presentation given during the initial interview process had been the reason she did not make the cut.

She challenged the rejection, which she believed undermined her credibility and integrity, and after submitting proof of her fundraising efforts, she won on appeal.

She was called for an interview early in February 2016 at the DA's Buffalo City offices. However, it was called off as a full panel had not been present.

READ: FACT CHECKED: DA claims over Bosasa/Ramaphosa contract denial misleading

She was requested to make herself available for the interview at the East London Golf Club, where an induction programme for potential DA councillors was to take place on February 6, 2016.

After she arrived, she was taken to the bathroom by three senior officials – one of them a man.

Rulumeni said what appeared to be the bathroom furniture – a dressing table and wicker chairs – was used for the interview.

Complaint laid with SAHRC

"My human dignity was violated in front of everyone. There were interruptions because there were people who wanted to use the ladies' room," Rulumeni charged.

"They even made an announcement to say the candidates can't go to the bathroom because they are busy with my interview."

She was later informed that she had not made the cut.

Rulumeni lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Commission of South Africa (SAHRC) in October 2016. She said the SAHRC found there had been a prima facie violation of her human rights and wrote to the DA.

She also filed a complaint with the Commission for Gender Equality.

Rulumeni said she was suspended from the party "pending litigation" after she filed her court papers.

She confirmed that her membership remained valid, and she had no plans to leave the party she had joined seven years ago.

Eastern Cape DA leader Nqaba Bhanga said the party would await the outcome of proceedings to establish exactly what happened that day, whereafter "appropriate steps" determined by the court would be taken should it be found that any individual's rights were undermined.

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