Municipality ordered to reinstate axed senior official

Faith Nene won against the unfair dismisal by Zululand Municipality. Photo supplied

Faith Nene won against the unfair dismisal by Zululand Municipality. Photo supplied

Published Apr 9, 2024


Durban — Zululand District Municipality Community Services director, Faith Kabo Nene, who claimed that her dismissal was influenced by mayor Thulasizwe Buthelezi because she turned down his sexual advances, has won her case against the municipality.

On Monday, the Pietermaritzburg High Court ordered the municipality to reinstate Nene.

The court also ordered the municipality to reimburse her salary from the month she was dismissed until the end of the last month.

The court found that Nene qualified for the job and her dismissal was a breach of contract. Nene took the matter to court challenging her dismissal on December 20 last year.

In her founding affidavit, she stated that her dismissal was prompted by the restraining order she had obtained against the mayor on December 12. She accused the mayor of sexual harassment.

Speaking to the Daily News on Monday, Nene hailed the justice system, saying her victory was for all the abused women in workplaces.

“I am so relieved and so grateful to our justice system. My victory is for all the women who have lost their jobs in workplaces for standing up against sexual harassment by male bosses,” said Nene.

Although the mayor was not cited in the court papers, Nene mentioned him in her founding affidavit as the main reason behind her dismissal.

The municipality and the municipal manager as well as Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) were the respondents.

Speaking through its attorneys Stowell and Co, the municipality said it was appealing the judgment.

“We hold instructions to immediately apply for leave to appeal and confirm that counsel has been instructed to immediately proceed with the drafting thereof.

“Copies of the application will be served on your offices within the week,” the law firm said in a letter to court.

Nene was employed in August 2022 after the post was advertised by the municipality. After her employment, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs raised eyebrows questioning her qualifications and experience.

But the municipality defended her employment and produced her qualifications which included an honours degree in education. When the municipality fired Nene, it cited the Cogta query as the reason but failed to provide the court with the department’s findings on the appointment.

The court also stated that in his responding affidavit, the municipal manager did not address the sexual harassment.

The municipal manager also did not dispute telling “her to go and apologise to the mayor because he was the one who instructed him to dismiss”.

“In the results, I grant the following order: the first and second respondents are in breach of the contract of employment dated August 1, 2022, and directed to pay the applicant her salary for December 2023 and for January to March 2024,” concluded the judgment.

Reacting to the judgment, the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal saluted Nene for her bravery. The party said Nene’s rejection of his sexual advances and protection order against him was the root cause of her unfair dismissal.

“The order by the court of law paves the way for all other women he has unfairly dismissed to also challenge him in a court of law,” read the ANC statement

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