Durban — Okhahlamba Local Municipality in Bergville, KwaZulu-Natal, has suspended its sports officer, Sithembiso Zulu, after he appeared in court for the alleged rape of a Grade 11 pupil.
Zulu, who faced a similar charge while he was an ANC speaker in the municipality in 2020, appeared in the Bergville Magistrate’s Court on Thursday and was denied bail. The matter was postponed to Wednesday.
Following a public outcry and pressure from opposition parties, the municipality placed Zulu on suspension with full pay.
In a letter addressed to him seen by the Daily News, municipal manager Nkosi Malinga said: “I consider the allegations made against you to be serious and accordingly place you on immediate suspension in terms of Clause 16 of the Disciplinary Procedure Collective Agreement pending a full investigation or disciplinary hearing which may emanate from the investigation.”
The suspension was confirmed by the mayor, Vikizitha Mlotshwa.
The letter also ordered Zulu to remove his belongings from his office and hand over any municipal assets.
During his court appearance opposition parties including the DA, the EFF and the IFP, with maidens, protested outside the court, calling for the accused not to be granted bail.
All parties had called for his suspension. Zulu had transported local pupils whose schools were participating in the Salga games but when he delivered pupils back home, he allegedly asked the victim to remain in the taxi and said he would drop her off after he had finished dropping off the others.
He then allegedly raped the pupil. After notifying her family the girl was taken to social workers and then taken to the police station to open a case.
While he was a speaker, Zulu allegedly raped another girl but she withdrew the case after he negotiated with her family. There were allegations that he offered to pay a fine to the family to withdraw the case, but did not fulfil his promise. It is alleged that when the victim went back to court to revive the case, her request was turned down.
Zulu resigned from the ANC after the party did not put him on its list of candidates. ANC spokesperson for the Josiah Gumede region, Bheki Khanyile, said his party would not comment since Zulu was no longer a party member. NFP secretary-general Canaan Mdletshe said his party noted with grave concern the allegations levelled against “our” member in oKhahlamba Local Municipality, saying the allegations “are disturbing and extremely disheartening”.
He said if the allegations were true, the party would not hesitate to take necessary action against him.
“Due to the serious nature of the allegations, the party sides with the victim in this instance.
“We, therefore, call on law enforcement agencies to play their part. We will never support anyone accused of rape or gender-based violence, considering the fact that GBV has been on the rise in our country.
“On behalf of the organisation, we apologise to each and every woman and child who are victims of gender-based violence. We are embarrassed and feel betrayed as the party,” said Mdletshe.