A R1 million damages claim for alleged defamation by an acting director who objected to a colleague’s implying in a memorandum that he was a “sex pest”, has been dismissed by the Pretoria High Court.
Solomon Maila brought the claim against Cynthia Ramulifho, who was an assistant director of policy services in what was formerly the Department of Safety and Security and which is now known as the Department of Police.
Maila’s claim related to a memorandum Ramulifho sent in September 2004 to the then-minister of safety and security, the secretariat of the department and to other heads.
In it Ramulifho said she would not be “comfortable” working with Maila, “given the historical experience and his unwelcome remarks about women”. She said the secretariat “has a duty to provide a workplace free of harassment and unwelcome sexual advances”.
Ramulifho confirmed she had written the memo, but denied that the statements were defamatory or had been meant in this light.
She testified that she had been working in the office of the secretariat since 2002. When she started there, Maila used to call her “a girl”. She took exception as she considered herself a woman, and being referred to as a girl in the work environment was demeaning.
She said that on one occasion, when she emerged from the women’s toilets, she met Maila and greeted him politely. He responded: “I’m fine and I am sexually excited.” She told him his comments and behaviour were unwelcome and unacceptable. He had laughed and left, she said.
Ramulifho said she felt uncomfortable and regarded his comments as unprofessional. She reported the incident to her supervisor, got no feedback and then wrote her complaint.
The Public Service Commission later informed the minister that it would be carrying out an investigation at the Office of the Secretariat that would include a probe into alleged sexual harassment by the deputy director, Maila.
Ramulifho said that while awaiting a response to her complaint, a press report appeared in which Maila was accused of being “a sex pest”. She said her memo had been meant only for the eyes of those to whom she had sent it and that she had been justified in raising her grievances. She was not the only person who complained about his “immoral conduct”, she said.
Maila, in his evidence, said the inference from the memorandum was that he was sexually abusive. He took exception as he had not been formally charged. When he was questioned by the Public Service Commission he told it he knew nothing about the allegations.
Maila said the memorandum caused his colleagues to isolate him and he feared he would not be promoted as he was regarded a “sex pest”. His marriage also suffered.
He said an anonymous letter was distributed in which he was branded a “sex pest”. He believed Ramulifho was the author of the letter, but she had denied this.
In his judgment, Judge Aubrey Ledwaba said it had become clear during Maila’s cross-examination that the “sex pest” label had begun in about 2000, not in September 2004 when Ramulifho wrote the memo.
Maila had testified he had “forgotten” that he had also claimed R1m in damages from another colleague who had branded him “sexually abusive”. The judge said he failed to understand how Maila “forgot” this, as the two summonses were issued by the same attorney.
Maila’s evidence was “weak” and Ramulifho a reliable and credible witness.
Judge Ledwaba said, however, he could not find that the court action by Maila was malicious. - Pretoria News
I think this guy is out of his mind!!
the man is a pervert, WTF has that got to do with the ANC?
Don't be silly WTF! How can the ANC discipline one of their own? Don't you know there is one law for all ANC leaders and officials they appoint, and another for all other citizens?
WTF. Will you please explain to the readers how JZ got involved in this matter. Nowhere in the article was his name mentioned. Was it not the duty of the employer to discipline this person. This is stupidity of the highest order. Have a life, its Friday afternoon
This is just one of many instances over the years when government or ministers failed to take decisive action against senior officials who sexually harrassed female staff. This shows that the governments Violence against Women and Children is just a big lie. Yet the people will still vote for a government that says one thing and does another!
Brave women. Ms Ramulifho, may your career go from strength to strengh. This court case, could not have been easy for you.
Why hasnt he been fired??? Sounds like JZ isnt too concerned about women and how they are treated.
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