DA mem­ber sues party af­ter ‘hu­mil­i­at­ing in­ter­view in a toi­let’

Sunday Times - - News Politics - By ZIMASA MATIWANE

● An East Lon­don woman is su­ing the DA for R10m for, she says, in­ter­view­ing her for a coun­cil­lor po­si­tion in a toi­let.

DA mem­ber Ntombenhle Ru­lu­meni claims that two party of­fi­cials es­corted her to a toi­let at an East Lon­don golf course, where she was in­ter­viewed for a ward coun­cil­lor po­si­tion ahead of the 2016 lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions.

She has lodged a civil claim against her party for hu­mil­i­at­ing her and un­der­min­ing her dig­nity, and for loss of in­come.

Ru­lu­meni this week told the East Lon­don high court that she joined the DA in 2011. Be­fore the 2016 elec­tion, she ap­plied to be a ward coun­cil­lor in the Buf­falo City metro. Her ap­pli­ca­tion was re­jected.

She said when she asked why she did not make the cut, she was told she had lied dur­ing the in­ter­view about rais­ing funds for the DA. She said she was not con­vinced by this ex­pla­na­tion, and pro­duced ev­i­dence as well as doc­u­ments of her fundrais­ing work for the party.

She was called for an­other in­ter­view, at the East Lon­don Golf Club in Bunkers Hill, dur­ing an in­duc­tion pro­gramme for prospec­tive DA coun­cil­lors.

Ru­lu­meni said two se­nior DA of­fi­cials es­corted her to the toi­let, where she found a ta­ble and two chairs.

Upon her ar­rival, she said, of­fi­cials ex­plained the rules of the in­ter­view and gave her only five min­utes to pre­pare.

Ru­lu­meni said she felt hu­mil­i­ated by the ex­pe­ri­ence.

“That was a very sad day for my­self. I was hu­mil­i­ated, and I was won­der­ing why are they even do­ing this to me, be­cause they say they are the cus­to­di­ans of the con­sti­tu­tion and they are in the po­si­tion of au­thor­ity as DA MPs,” she said.

“The ac­tions of the DA brought into sharp fo­cus painful mem­o­ries of the treat­ment of black peo­ple by white peo­ple un­der apartheid, as all the peo­ple who sub­jected [me] to this hu­mil­i­a­tion were white and one of them be­ing a male in fe­male toi­lets,” she said.

Ru­lu­meni said af­ter a few days, she was told she had failed the sec­ond in­ter­view.

“I could not fo­cus dur­ing the pur­ported in­ter­view, not only be­cause it was be­ing in­ter­rupted by peo­ple go­ing in and out of the toi­let but the fact of the ablu­tion fa­cil­i­ties, racial dy­nam­ics and the male in a fe­male fa­cil­ity made it un­bear­able,” she said.

Ru­lu­meni then ap­proached the Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion.

“I’m very much dis­ap­pointed with the party, be­cause this is not what I was ex­pect­ing from them. I ex­pected a lot from them be­cause they pre­sented them­selves as the only party that can bring about change in SA. So, when I com­plained to the Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion [I ex­pected] that they were go­ing to see their mis­take and come for­ward and apol­o­gise, but in­stead they sent papers say­ing they are de­fend­ing the DA MPs.”

She said she was sus­pended from the party struc­tures she served on, in­clud­ing se­lec­tion pan­els.

De­spite say­ing that she had been hu­mil­i­ated by the DA, Ru­lu­meni told the Sun­day Times she would not leave the party.

“I am still a mem­ber of the DA, I have no in­ten­tion to leave the party be­cause I have done noth­ing wrong. I have never been taken to any dis­ci­plinary hear­ing. I have in­stead had good ref­er­ences for my strong work ethic. Why must I leave as if I am run­ning away, as if I did wrong? Right now I am fo­cus­ing on this case and restor­ing my dig­nity.”

Eastern Cape DA leader Nqaba Bhanga said the DA would await the out­come of the court case.

“As the DA we re­spect our con­sti­tu­tion. We will wait to hear what the court says about what hap­pened and how it hap­pened, and if the court takes a de­ci­sion we will have to con­sider that de­ci­sion as a party. I want to em­pha­sise that the DA re­spects the rights of in­di­vid­u­als, and if the court says the right of an in­di­vid­ual was in­fringed, the DA will have to take ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion go­ing for­ward in re­la­tion to what hap­pened on that day. I was not there, even the pre­vi­ous leader was not there. It is good that this mat­ter is in court so we can at least get clo­sure on this is­sue.”

DA mem­ber Ntombenhle Ru­lu­meni and party leader Mmusi Maimane.

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