Sex case just dis­ap­pears

CityPress - - News - SIZWE SAMA YENDE sizwe.yende@city­

Ase­nior civil ser­vant who lost a sex­ual ha­rass­ment suit in his pre­vi­ous job has faced a sim­i­lar case in his new job in the Mpumalanga leg­is­la­ture. The pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­ture kept the al­le­ga­tion against cor­po­rate ser­vices ex­ec­u­tive man­ager Ge­orge Mthimunye un­der wraps when the in­ci­dent was re­ported in June last year.

The com­plainant – a man­ager whose name is known to City Press – first tried lodg­ing a com­plaint with the leg­is­la­ture’s se­nior man­age­ment, but she was al­legedly snubbed.

She then ap­proached the Com­mis­sion on Gen­der Equal­ity (CGE), which con­firmed the com­plaint after City Press used the Pro­mo­tion of Ac­cess to In­for­ma­tion Act (Paia) to gain ac­cess to the doc­u­ments.

Mthimunye al­legedly made sex­ual over­tures to her dur­ing a strate­gic plan­ning meet­ing at a ho­tel near Sa­bie, Mpumalanga, in Novem­ber 2015. He also al­legedly did the same a few weeks later when the leg­is­la­ture was in Jo­han­nes­burg to par­tic­i­pate in the in­ter­provin­cial leg­is­la­ture games. He also al­legedly con­tin­ued with his ad­vances in Jan­uary last year.

“In terms of the Com­mis­sion on Gen­der Equal­ity Gazetted Com­plaints Man­ual, we are re­quired to send an al­le­ga­tion let­ter to the re­spon­dent within 10 days after the com­plaint has been ac­cepted by the com­mis­sion. We re­ceived this com­plaint on June 29 2016. An al­le­ga­tion let­ter was con­se­quently sent to the re­spon­dent on June 30 2016,” said Com­mis­sion on Gen­der Equal­ity chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Keketso Maema in response to our Paia ap­pli­ca­tion.

“The CGE can con­firm that ... the mat­ter has since been am­i­ca­bly re­solved be­tween the par­ties con­cerned. We have no le­gal man­date over this mat­ter any more as it is closed on the in­struc­tions of the com­plainant,” CGE spokesper­son, Javu Baloyi, this week said.

The vic­tim re­fused to ex­plain to City Press her rea­sons for with­draw­ing her case and whether that had any­thing to do with a new po­si­tion with bet­ter perks, known to City Press, given to her in Septem­ber last year by the leg­is­la­ture fol­low­ing the with­drawal. The po­si­tion was not ad­ver­tised.

In a tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion, she said: “Where did you get my num­ber? I re­spect your job be­cause it puts food on the ta­ble, but I’m not go­ing to an­swer any­thing to the me­dia. So, I’ll drop this call.”

Mpumalanga leg­is­la­ture spokesper­son Za­m­agambu Gamede de­nied that the vic­tim laid a com­plaint with the leg­is­la­ture. “There has never been a com­plaint laid with the leg­is­la­ture re­gard­ing the mat­ter you are rais­ing,” she said.

But a source who is a leg­is­la­ture of­fi­cial in­sisted that the case had been lodged with the leg­is­la­ture’s se­nior hu­man re­sources man­ager, Them­bela Man­ciya, on De­cem­ber 2 2015. City Press saw a copy of the doc­u­ment.

On the vic­tim’s new job, Gamede ar­gued that the leg­is­la­ture had an “open mind” about the growth of its per­son­nel. “Un­less you pro­vide the ev­i­dence [re­lat­ing to the vic­tim’s of­fer of a new job], we can’t look into that mat­ter.”

When ap­proached for comment on Jan­uary 27, Mthimunye said he was in a meet­ing.

On Thurs­day, he did not re­spond to text mes­sages and ques­tions.

The first time Mthimunye was ac­cused of sex­ual ha­rass­ment was when he was man­ager of Dr JS Moroka municipality in Siyabuswa, where he sex­u­ally ha­rassed a se­nior clerk, Es­ther Mahlangu-Mathi­bela, from 1998 to 2001. In Fe­bru­ary 2011, North Gaut­eng High Court Judge Jody Kol­lapen ruled that Mthimunye had sex­u­ally ha­rassed MahlanguMathi­bela. Kol­lapen or­dered both Mthimunye and the Dr JS Moroka coun­cil to com­pen­sate MahlanguMathi­bela for dam­ages. De­spite this judg­ment, Mthimunye got a job as Emalahleni mu­nic­i­pal man­ager fol­low­ing a stint at the Naledi lo­cal municipality in Vry­burg. Emalahleni work­ers at­tacked him and forced him to re­sign in 2013. He was then ap­pointed in the pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­ture. It is un­clear whether Mthimunye paid to­wards MahlanguMathi­bela’s com­pen­sa­tion – which cost the tax­payer about R4 mil­lion. Ac­cord­ing to Mahlangu-Mathi­bela’s hus­band, Steve, he did not.

Dr JS Moroka mu­nic­i­pal spokesper­son Maser­ata Ra­mat­setse did not re­spond to ques­tions texted to her on Wed­nes­day and failed to re­turn calls.

Mahlangu-Mathi­bela is now fight­ing for her re­in­state­ment in the labour court, de­spite win­ning the law­suit.

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