Cape Town - Traffic chief Farrel Payne, who has been in and out of court on allegations of sexual assault levelled against him by a colleague, has entered a plea of not guilty in the Cape Town Regional Court.
He faces five counts of sexual assault, crimen injuria, and alleged sexual harassment of a colleague between July 2018 and September 2020.
The woman, who was barred from speaking to the media about the matter on a previous occasion, said she was forced to take incapacity leave and frequented wellness clinics due to stress since making it public.
Payne entered a plea of not guilty and provided the court with a plea explanation which gave his version.
In his explanation, Payne made numerous allegations against the woman, and said her accusations arose after she was overlooked for a job when he was appointed acting chief director of traffic management in the province.
The allegation of sexual assault is said to have taken place during a work trip in July 2018, when Payne allegedly accosted the woman in an attempt to commit a sex act.
He said he had no knowledge of the woman’s allegations until he heard about it on the radio. He provided the court with email correspondence after the trip, which to Payne was an indication that their working relationship at the time had suffered no strain.
“The complainant and I regularly checked up on one another during lockdown as concerned colleagues would do, without any sexual innuendo, fear or trauma … I emphatically deny that I committed any of the alleged offences referred to,” he said.
Payne recounted an incident in which he addressed the woman’s behaviour at a workshop as “provocative”, but denied that he compared her to a dancer in a strip club.
Payne then explained the most recent incident, which occurred in September 2020, when the woman said Payne had grabbed her and made lewd comments about her appearance with a sexual undertone. He denied this.
“I deny that I ever uttered the words mentioned in respect of this charge, on the said day, or ever,” Payne said.