Phooko tack­les Vavi, Numsa and Cosatu

Sunday World - - Front Page - NKU­L­ULEKO NCANA

COSATU gen­eral sec­re­tary Zwelinz­ima Vavi has been slapped with a defama­tion claim by the ju­nior staffer he al­legedly had sex with at the trade union fed­er­a­tion’s of­fices last year.

Sun­day World can ex­clu­sively re­veal that Jacqueline Phooko also served le­gal pa­pers on the Na­tional Union of Me­tal­work­ers of South Africa (Numsa) and in­sti­tuted a dam­ages claim against Cosatu.

It is un­der­stood that the le­gal no-

It is be­lieved that Phooko will claim dam­ages from Cosatu for fail­ing to prop­erly han­dle her griev­ance

tices were served on the par­ties about three weeks ago.

Phooko is also fight­ing her dis­missal with the Com­mis­sion for Con­cil­i­a­tion, Me­di­a­tion and Ar­bi­tra­tion (CCMA), af­ter a Cosatu dis­ci­plinary com­mit­tee found her guilty of mis­con­duct. She was fired in April.

Cosatu in­sid­ers told Sun­day World that the claims against Vavi and Numsa are re­lated to “deroga­tory state­ments ” and “false claims” made by the gen­eral sec­re­tary in the aftermath of his ad­mis­sion that he had a “brief sex­ual en­counter” with Phooko in her of­fice at the Cosatu House in Braam­fontein, Joburg.

At the time, Phooko claimed that Vavi had raped her, a charge she later with­drew.

Vavi al­leged that Phooko made the claim to ex­tort R2-mil­lion from him.

Af­ter Vavi’s sus­pen­sion for hav­ing sex at work, Numsa came to his de­fence and claimed that he was the vic­tim of a po­lit­i­cal cam­paign to get him out of Cosatu.

Numsa backed Vavi in court pro­ceed­ings, which re­sulted in his sus­pen­sion be­ing lifted “on tech­ni­cal grounds”.

It is be­lieved that Phooko will claim dam­ages from Cosatu for fail­ing to prop­erly han­dle her griev­ance for the sex­ual as­sault charge she laid against Vavi to the union.

Cosatu, Vavi and Numsa have all de­nied the ex­is­tence of the le­gal pa­pers al­legedly served on them.

John Dludlu, Vavi’s spokesman, said they had not seen the le­gal pa­pers.

“We are aware nei­ther of such pa­pers be­ing served on Vavi nor the ba­sis thereof,” he said.

Cosatu pres­i­dent S’dumo Dlamini also de­nied knowl­edge of the pa­pers.

Castro Ngob­ese, Numsa ’ s spokesman, said: “That ’ s not true at all. We have not been served with le­gal pa­pers by Phooko.”

De­spite the blan­ket de­nials from the par­ties in­volved, sources said Cosatu, Vavi and Numsa did not want the mat­ter out in pub­lic.

Phooko is chal­leng­ing the al­leged un­fair dis­missal on the ba­sis that the “sex­ual en­counter” with Vavi for which she was sus­pended did not form part of the charges, most of which she was found guilty of.

In pros­e­cut­ing her, Cosatu re- tained the ser­vices of se­nior coun­sel and an ad­vo­cate – a move seen to have been heavy-handed, given that Phooko could not af­ford her own lawyers.

In an exclusive in­ter­view with Sun­day World last month, Phooko said: “I feel I got the raw end of the deal be­cause I was a lit­tle pawn in their fight.”

It is claimed that Vavi re­ceived pref­er­en­tial treat­ment at Phooko’s ex­pense, given that he had been re­in­stated for the same charge that led to her be­ing dis­ci­plined and, ul­ti­mately, given the boot.

Phooko ’ s first ap­pear­ance at the CCMA was two weeks ago.

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