Cape Town - DA MP and deputy spokesman in the National Assembly, Archibald Figlan has received a suspended sentence after being found guilty of sexual harassment during an internal party disciplinary hearing.
The 56-year old will hold on to his job as a member of Parliament despite being hauled before the party’s federal legal commission for allegedly forcing a DA staffer to touch his crotch during a protest march in in the city ahead of President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address.
The woman at the centre of the case, a DA staffer who works at the party’s offices in Cape Town, officially laid a complaint against the MP in February.
The complainant claimed that the MP “took her hand and put it on his privates” during the march – moments before police dispersed the crowd using water cannon.
Three co-workers, who attended the march, gave supporting affidavits confirming her claims.
A co-worker at the time claimed that Figlan came up behind the woman and demanded to know why she did not respond when he called her name.
“She told him she was busy with a picket and he grabbed her hand and put it on his private parts, saying, ‘picket here’,” said the colleague.
The complaint was initially lodged with the DA’s Western Cape office before being referred to the party’s Federal Legal Commission (FLC).
The FLC held a hearing in April into the matter and returned with a guilty verdict, also providing their recommendations for an applicable sanction.
Nearly two months later, the party’s federal executive met at the weekend to discuss, amongst others, the findings of the FLC.
Confirming the guilty verdict, the DA’s federal chairman, James Selfe, said Figlan was found guilty of contravening five clauses of the federal constitution of the DA, which related to the code of conduct for members.
Explaining the sanctions, Selfe said these included that Figlan’s membership be terminated in terms of section 188.8.131.52 of the federal constitution, but that this termination be suspended, as long as Figlan sticks to certain conditions, which he must accept in writing.
According to the terms, Figlan must: make a monthly donation of R 1 000 to Nicro for a period of 12 months; should perform community service consisting of two hours a month for a period of 12 months and must apologise to the complainant in a handwritten letter.
The MP will also be prevented from holding any elected position in office in the party for five years.
The complainant said she was satisfied with the verdict.
When asked for comment, Figlan said he had not yet been informed about the finding and the sanction.
Asked if he was going to appeal, Figlan said: “Actually I haven’t received it yet, I am still waiting on it and cannot comment. They did not summon me yet.”
A DA party source said there was a feeling within the party that Figlan had a lucky break in holding on to his position as an MP.
“This is truly bizarre.
“If the charges were of such a serious nature, a suspended sanction does not seem a fitting punishment,” said the source.