Virtual Tshwane council special sitting suspends alleged sex pest
Pretoria - The future of a senior manager at the City of Tshwane embroiled in the allegations of sexual harassment is hanging in the balance after he was placed on suspension with immediate effect.
Yesterday, a virtual council special sitting resolved to go ahead with the decision to suspend him.
Council had already issued the manager with a notice of intention to suspend him in December, stating that he had a seven-day period to submit reasons why he should not be suspended.
Councillors shot down reasons advanced by the implicated manager, who argued against the suspension. The manager and victims cannot be named due to the nature of the alleged offence.
The manager vehemently denied the allegations, saying they were part of a plot to tarnish his good reputation built over a 20-year public service career.
He said it was a political ploy to play into the campaign to fight gender-based violence and the protection of women and children.
Insiders said there was contention in council after it surfaced that a candidate proposed to act in the manager's position had filed an affidavit against an alleged victim.
Both councillors from the EFF and ANC objected to the candidate opting to nominate a second person and settle the dispute by voting.
Chief of staff Jordan Griffiths said the report tabled in council came from the city manager's office.
The report recommended that the council should facilitate the suspension and appoint someone to act in the manager's position.
Griffiths said an individual initially proposed to act in the position had filed an affidavit affirming the version by the implicated manager in relation to the allegations.
"Critically the council job today (yesterday) is not primarily to deliberate on the merit of the case and many people don't quite appreciate this. The merit of this matter is going to be investigated and that's why there is an independent investigation," Griffiths said.
Acting city manager Mmaseabata Mutlaneng was previously authorised by council to appoint external investigators to further probe the sexual harassment complaints lodged by two female subordinates.
The Pretoria News reported yesterday that the probe by independent investigators was "proceeding because it has a longer period until it comes back to council".
Investigators were expected to submit a report to the city manager within 30 days of appointment.
The report should be tabled in council within seven days of the city manager received it.
The SA Municipal Workers Union in Tshwane welcomed the council's decision to suspend the manager.
Regional secretary Mpho Tladinyane said in a statement that the allegations were raised by the union after a member complained about improper conduct by the department head.
"Subsequent to that we wrote a letter to both the acting city manager and executive mayor requesting that council investigate the allegations and in the meantime suspend the alleged perpetrator," he said.
He said the union viewed gender-based cases "as a disease that should be eradicated at all cost".
"We therefore commit that we will always be on the side of victims. It is therefore important that the City of Tshwane executive, legislature and acting City manager show both administrative and political appetite to investigate all cases of sexual harassment within the workplace," Tladinyane said.
The ANC Women's caucus last year demonstrated outside Tshwane House, calling for action to be taken against the implicated manager.