Employee speaks out after harassment by municipal official

OFM reports that employees of the Matjhabeng Local Municipality in Welkom handed Mayor Thanduxolo Khalipa a memorandum, highlighting various issues, including sexual harassment. An employee Selwane Mfana claimed she was humiliated by a senior accounting officer of the municipality who sexually harassed her during a job interview. She said the officer touched and hugged her inappropriately, promising her a promotion in exchange for sexual favours. Mfana provided a report from the Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration (CCMA) stating that there were eight shortlisted candidates for the position.

After five applicants were interviewed, the officer approached Mfana while she was alone and informed her that the interview panel would take a tea break before continuing with the remaining candidates. It was during this time that he hugged her and touched her breasts. She reported the incident to her superior on the same day, as well as the municipal manager. Mfana filed her complaint with Tendleni’s office on 6 September 2022. Four days later, on 10 September 2022, she received a notice of hearing and was invited to attend a disciplinary hearing scheduled for 10 October 2022. The charges against her were related to a strike that occurred in 2021. She had previously been issued a suspension notice after the strike, but those charges were later withdrawn.

Consequently, she was surprised to see the same charges resurface when she attended the disciplinary hearing on 10 October 2022. However, she was informed at the hearing that the charges had been withdrawn. She strongly believed that the officer had orchestrated the charges to get rid of her. Mfana has been working for the Matjhabeng Department of Safety and Transport for 20 years. Additionally, she mentioned that the CCMA ruled in her favour. The ruling dictated that the municipality must establish a sexual harassment policy since it was discovered that such a policy was not in place. “The officer was found guilty by the CCMA, but the municipality prevented him from attending the hearing, claiming they were protecting his rights as their employee.” 

She found it perplexing that she, as an employee of the municipality, did not receive the same level of protection for her rights. Following the hearing, the CCMA ordered the Matjhabeng Municipality to pay Mfana R497 634 in damages, which they have failed to do. The matter had been reported to the police, however, the police informed Mfana that the case did not have prospects of being prosecuted. 

Some of the issues raised in the memorandum include:

1. Health and Safety and provision of relevant PPE;

2. outsourcing of municipal services;

3. GBV in the workplace;

4. harassment of employees by the Executive Mayor;

5. political interference in the operations of the municipality;

6. unlawful recruitment and nepotism;

7. the payment of salaries in terms of the relevant municipal grading;

8. payment of Covid-19 allowance; and

9. amendment of the Municipal Systems Act.

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