Tshwane official in harassment debacleComment on this story
Update 5 August 2014: When this article was first published IOL used a picture of Jason Ngobeni, the city manager, to illustrate the article. This was a mistake on our part. The city manager was not referenced in the article but in using his picture we may have erroneously implied that he was the manager in question. This is not the case and we apologise for having created this impression. We regret any negative consequences experienced by Mr Ngobeni as a result of our mistake. I have formally apologised to the city manager. That apology can be read here. - Editor
Pretoria - “If you agreed a long time ago to do something with me, you wouldn’t have suffered like you did.”
Feeling violated, City of Tshwane’s corporate and shared services department staffer Miriam Mhlongo filed a complaint of sexual harassment and victimisation against the senior official who uttered these words to her in his office in January.
In the same conversation, the official - whose name has been withheld - allegedly asked Mhlongo “what she had” against city manager Jason Ngobeni that required him to resolve the work-related problems she raised.
“I was perplexed; it literally means one must have something against management before they can resolve issues,” Mhlongo said, who subsequently wrote to the official reaffirming her refusal to “do something” with him.
In the e-mail, she stated that “if agreeing to sleep with you in return for you making it possible for me to get a promotion is the only option that you give me for my misery to come to an end, I regret to inform you that I will rather not get promotion. I am not going to subject myself to any sexual favours with anybody for any sum of money.
In reply, the official “noted” Mhlongo’s work-related issues included claims that the city was creating unapproved positions, denying her a chance to attend training courses and failing to grant her due salary increases or offer her higher positions.
The city has since charged Mhlongo for a variety of offences.
These include that she accused the senior official of sexually harassing her, and wanting her to exchange sexual favours with him in return for a promotion.
An investigator met her last Thursday to look into the matter, but Mhlongo refused to co-operate, saying arbitration was pending on the charges the city laid against her, including that she accused the official of sexual harassment.
The city investigation, she said, was just an attempt to rectify the situation after realising that the matter had not been handled properly.