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Call for submissions – Dreaming Feminist Futures

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GENDER POLITICS, POLITICS

#NotOurLeaders Jihad Mohapi and 4 Others

NotOurLeaders

16 Days of Activism to end violence against women

For release: Late Wednesday 6 December 2017

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO….?

CASE 10: Mohapi Jihad Mohapi, Free State representative to the National Council of Provinces and chair of the Select Committee on Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs

In February 2015 Mohapi Jihad Mohapi, chair of the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Select Committee in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) was charged with assaulting his former girlfriend. According to a journalist who had access to the photographs, the woman’s injuries included a blue eye and bruising to most of her upper chest region, the upper part of one arm, as well as one thigh. Mohapi handed himself over to the police and was charged with assault, kidnapping and crimen injuria. The fate of the criminal case is unknown.

Parliament’s Ethics Committee reported on 16 March 2016 that the Mohapi matter was referred for further investigation to a subcommittee, with a hearing scheduled for April 2016. It is likely there were no meaningful consequences as Mohapi remains the chair of COGTA and is also a member of the Select Committees on Petitions and Executive Undertakings, along with Security and Justice.

Like Mduduzi Manana (#NotOurLeaders Case 9), Mohapi is a MP who experiences no disconnect between his public duties and private conduct. While Manana was leading dialogues on gender-based violence on university campuses at the time he assaulted three women, the Select Committee in the NCOP that Mohapi chairs was exercising parliamentary oversight of the Department for Women in both 2015 and 2016. In 2016, the year of parliament’s investigation into Mohapi’s conduct, the Select Committee dealt with reports from the Commission for Gender Equality too. (Neither body appeared before the Select Committee in 2017 though.)

“Right now there’s a great deal of emphasis on getting men to take up the problem of violence against women,” said the Women and Democracy Initiative’s Vivienne Mentor Lalu. “But appointing men to powerful political positions in order to champion matters of gender equality purely on the basis that they are men is naïve – even dangerous – when it is not accompanied by careful scrutiny of their conduct and history in this field.”

Forgetting violence in peri-urban and rural area?

Mohapi Jihad Mohapi’s case is not the only one to disappear quietly. These four rape cases reported between 2013 and 2016 have all disappeared equally quietly.

  • Unnamed ANC Councillor, North West – Arrested after being accused of raping a 13-year old girl in March 2013. This may have been Benjamin Khoza of Moretele, who was reportedly suspended from the ANC subsequent to the criminal charges being laid against him. In 2015 the Sosh Times reported the case as still ongoing. No information on the case’s eventual outcome could be located.
  • Unnamed ANC Councillor, Devland Gauteng – accused of raping his 10-year-old daughter in November 2013. No further information of the outcome of this case could be located.
  • Unnamed DA Councillor, Buffalo City Metro, Eastern Cape – In February 2015 the media reported that the councilor had been arrested, but not yet charged with the rape of his former girlfriend. No further information of the outcome of this case could be located.
  • Unnamed ANC member campaigning to be nominee in the 2016 local elections, Vryburg, North West – charged with the rape of a 14-year old girl. To its credit, the local branch of ANC Women’s League protested his actions vigorously, including outside court. No further information of the outcome of this case could be located. It is also unknown whether or not he went on to stand as a local councilor.

“What each of today’s cases have in common is their invisibility” said Lisa Vetten. She identifies this invisibility as occurring on at least two levels:

“The first has to do with the absence of violent images of these crimes. Mduduzi Manana’s violence, along with images of the women’s injuries, was broadcast across Twitter and beyond. These visuals playing a considerable role in provoking a public outcry over Manana’s conduct. But in Jihad Mohapi’s case, the photographic evidence of his violence remained within the confines the police docket. This surely contributed to the near non-existent response to his behavior, including by the general public.”

A second factor contributing to the invisibility of these cases, she said, is their perpetration by men based within provincial and local political structures: “Because they hold a relatively low-level, unglamorous status within the hierarchy of our democratic institutions, provincial and local structures and their staff attract far less public interest than their national counterparts.”

Vetten also highlights how

“A great many of these reports come from peri-urban and rural communities where social and traditional media almost never go and help is often absent. In these forgotten corners of our democracy, political position seems less open to critical scrutiny – so magnifying its power, which is further entrenched by networks of patronage and protection. Further, in small or rural areas, the municipality is often the biggest and most important employer. Speaking out in this context, where employment and promotion opportunities are limited, can present real risks to complainants.”

#NotOurLeaders calls for the following action

Our call today is very simple and directed at the media, as well as South Africa’s various public groupings:

  • Report on and follow-up cases involving our political representatives and institutions. It is in the public interest to know what our power-holders do with their positions and authority.
  • Treat all reports of sexual misconduct, abuse and violence with equal seriousness. A focus only on the high-profile, national figures should not overshadow the victimisation of women and girls by less-prominent individuals, in small, rural areas.

For comment contact:

  • Sanja Bornman, Lawyers for Human Rights, 083 522 2933
  • Lisa Vetten, gender violence specialist, 082 822 6725
  • Vivienne Mentor-Lalu Women and Democracy Initiative, Dullah Omar Institute, 082 494 0788

For more cases from #NotOurLeaders click here

RELATED MEDIA STORIES

https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/sowetan/20150220/281517929562455

http://allafrica.com/stories/201603170776.html

https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/ANC-councillor-held-over-rape-20130319

https://issuu.com/hermino/docs/sosh_times_early_march

http://www.thenewage.co.za/anger-at-sex-pest-claims/

http://www.dispatchlive.co.za/news/2015/02/06/da-councillor-held-for-rape/

http://ewn.co.za/2013/11/27/ANC-councillor-accused-of-raping-his-daughter

About the #NotOurLeaders campaign

During this year’s 16 Days of Activism, the Women and Democracy Initiative (WDI) of the Dullah Omar Institute at the University of the Western Cape, Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), and gender violence specialist, Lisa Vetten, turn the spotlight on political representatives accused of sexual violence and the practices that protect and enable their sexual misconduct and abuse. By contrasting the range of incidents reported with parties’ inconsistent – even non-existent – responses, the campaign aims to demonstrate the chasm between political-speak and political actions on sexual violence.

The campaign emphasises the need for strong political leadership by all political parties and representatives in tackling the pervasive problem of sexual violence in South Africa.

GENDER POLITICS, POLITICS

#NotOurLeaders Day 8 – George Mthimunye

#NotOurLeaders

16 Days of Activism to end violence against women

For release: late Monday 4 December 2017

Another Teflon Man – Government ignores it’s own #CountMeIn campaign

CASE 8: George Mthimunye, municipal manager in three municipalities, now senior manager at Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature

Esther Mahlangu-Mathibela was sexually harassed for three years by George Mthimunye, the then-municipal manager of the Dr JS Moroka Municipality in Mpumalanga. In 2001 Mthimunye was finally suspended and charged with sexual harassment and unauthorised or fruitless expenditure. He later settled with the municipality and resigned in 2001, reportedly having received a R5 million settlement. Mthimunye was then appointed the municipal manager of the Naledi municipality in Vryburg – and suspended in 2010 in the course of disciplinary proceedings against him, related to tender irregularities. Two years later, reportedly on the recommendation of the ANC’s deployment committee, and despite a High Court judgement against him, Mthimunye was appointed the manager of the Emalahleni Municipality. In a now-familiar pattern, Mthimunye was suspended in 2013 and the municipality placed under administration. Mthimunye resigned from Emalahleni in February 2014 and took up his new post as the Executive Manager of Corporate Services in the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature in April 2014 – a position he continues to occupy.

Mthimunye seems to have avoided ever facing disciplinary enquiry for his actions and has consistently evaded finalisation of such processes. In a pattern already noted in previous #NotOurLeaders, he appears to have received at least one substantial settlement upon his resignation. In 2007 Mthimunye also successfully sued RCP Media and African Eye News Services for defamation after they described him both as ‘lecherous’ and as a sexual harasser. He was awarded R35 000, in addition when his harassment of Mathibela-Mahlangu went to court, the municipality reportedly paid his legal costs.

By contrast, Esther Mahlangu-Mathibela had to wait until 2012 before she saw justice. The North Gauteng High Court found that Mthimunye had committed the sexual harassment and awarded costs and damages to Mahlangu-Mathibela to be paid by the Moroka Municipality and Mthimunye. Esther Mahlangu-Mathibela reportedly faced ongoing victimisation by the Moroko Municipality during 2012 and 2013, including having her salary frozen. The municipality has also never sought to recover any costs from Mthimunye, in spite of legal advice that he could be liable for at least a portion of these.

In 2016 Mthimunye was again accused of at least three incidents of sexual harassment by a woman working in the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature. When the Legislature failed to take up her complaint she took the matter to the Commission on Gender Equality (CGE). Subsequently the case disappeared, the CGE having concluded that the matter was ‘amicably resolved.’

ANC and municipal spokespeople have used the usual avoidance tactics when asked to comment on Mthimunye. In 2012, in the face of the High Court ruling, the ANC secretary for the Nkangala region, Tommy Nkoana, argued that the ANC could not take a position as it would be ‘“judgmental” and “passing a verdict” if it stopped Mthimunye’s deployment to Emalahleni. Emalahleni spokesperson Lebohang Mofokeng similarly argued that they could not comment on the allegations against Mthimunye because they were ‘his word against the media’.

“This case has all the hallmarks of patronage and protectionism from the ANC in Mpumalanga, it is inconceivable that a person with a track record like this could continue to advance in his career without strong political support. It is corrupt” says Sam Waterhouse of the Women and Democracy Initative.

Lisa Vetten, a gender violence specialist points out: “One of government’s messages for the 16 Days of Activism is #CountMeIn which urges people to take various sorts of actions against gender-based violence. They could do no better than to act on their own message by taking action against Mthimunye in terms of the Public Service Commission Act. He is blatantly unfit to work in the public service. Retaining, promoting and protecting him makes a mockery of every government campaign telling women to speak out.”

Action must be taken

  • Mthimunye’s deployment to various municipalities is linked to recommendations of the ANC deployment committee and is overseen by the ministers and MECs of cooperative governance. Relevant ANC structures must account for their continued support of Mthimunye and his deployment in senior positions regardless of the multiple charges that he’s faced.
  • Repeated appointment of Mthimunye also points to a gap in appointments processes and lack of accountability of the municipal councils and the Provincial Legislature. An accessible public record of people who’ve been disciplined and dismissed, or resigned prior to completion of a disciplinary process can increase political accountability. This should apply to senior appointments at all levels and arms of government.

For comment contact:

  • Sanja Bornman, Lawyers for Human Rights, 083 522 2933
  • Sam Waterhouse, Women and Democracy Initiative, Dullah Omar Institute, 084 522 9646
  • Lisa Vetten, gender violence specialist, 082 822 6725
  •  
Relevant Policy

Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA)

 

 

RELATED MEDIA STORIES

https://www.news24.com/Archives/City-Press/Municipality-scrambles-to-pay-sexual-harassment-costs-20150430

https://www.news24.com/Archives/City-Press/Municipal-clerk-still-on-ice-after-winning-sexual-harassment-case-against-boss-20150429

https://witbanknews.co.za/10850/past-municipal-manager-now-legislature/

https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/sex-case-just-disappears-20170204

 

About the #NotOurLeaders campaign

During this year’s 16 Days of Activism, the Women and Democracy Initiative (WDI) of the Dullah Omar Institute at the University of the Western Cape, Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), and gender violence specialist, Lisa Vetten, turn the spotlight on political representatives accused of sexual violence and the practices that protect and enable their sexual misconduct and abuse. By contrasting the range of incidents reported with parties’ inconsistent – even non-existent – responses, the campaign aims to demonstrate the chasm between political-speak and political actions on sexual violence.

The campaign emphasises the need for strong political leadership by all political parties and representatives in tackling the pervasive problem of sexual violence in South Africa.

 

GENDER POLITICS, POLITICS

#NotOurLeaders Case 7 – COGTA

#NotOurLeaders

16 days of activism to end violence against women

 

AIDING AND ABETTING SEXUAL HARASSMENT

CASE 7: Getting away with it, with help from your friends Malibongwe Ngcai and Basil Mase, Eastern Cape Government

On 1 June 2017 Malibongwe Ngcai started his job as general manager of corporate services in the Eastern Cape Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), and Basil Mase the general manager of strategic information management, also in COGTA. Both men had resigned their positions as senior managers in the Eastern Cape Legislature only one day before joining COGTA – so evading any sanctions arising from the disciplinary proceedings against them.

In 2015 an investigation by the Neela Hoosain Commission appointed by the Legislature recommended that action be taken against Ngcai and Mase for demanding sex in exchange for jobs or promotion. But this was not the focus of the disciplinary enquiry conducted during 2016 and 2017. Rather, it was their bringing the Legislature into disrepute by challenging the Commission’s report in court and attempting to prevent implementation of its recommendation that prompted the disciplinary action. While the presiding officer of the legislature’s disciplinary hearing found them guilty of gross dishonesty, gross insubordination and breaching the trust relationship with their former employer, no sanctions could ultimately be ordered as the duo had left the employ of the legislature.

This case raises two issues of policy:

  • Resignation and shuffling of staff as strategies to evade disciplinary sanctions
  • Appointing officials who have resigned in the midst of disciplinary proceedings to another arm of the state

Gender violence specialist Lisa Vetten points to a similar matter involving an unnamed former senior manager at the national Department of Environmental Affairs: “He too simply resigned in August once allegations of sexual harassment by him began being investigated. In October he was employed at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) – despite being accused of sexually harassing six junior employees and allegedly raping two women in his unit. Disturbingly, spokesperson for Environmental Affairs, Albi Modise, was reported as claiming that it was ‘not the duty of his department to give references about their former employees to new employers.’”

“A significant policy gap enables this questionable shuffling of staff,” says Sam Waterhouse of the Women and Democracy Initiative. “Staff at legislatures, who are employed in a branch of government and paid with public money, are not governed by any specific law, except the standard labour laws. Interestingly, the regulations to the Municipal Systems Act recognise that some people resign in order to escape the consequences of internal disciplinary action. To address this the Regulations state that the Minister and provincial MEC must be notified if a municipal staff member resigns before the disciplinary hearing is completed. If this clause was applied across the public services and to staff at legislatures, it could assist in monitoring and preventing the movement across different branches of government of people accused of sexual misconduct.”

Said Vivienne Mentor-Lalu of the Women and Democracy Initiative, “The lack of consideration for women’s safety in the workplace shows its low priority. This is rape culture. Women who report sexual violence are sidelined, never to be heard of again, while the men who perpetrate sexual abuse often get to quietly move on and prosper. Is patronage politics at play in these cases?”

Action must be taken

The #NotOurLeaders campaign is calling on the Eastern Cape Department of COGTA to immediately engage in an internal investigation and due diligence exercise with regards to the appointment of Malibongwe Ngcai and Basil Mase. COGTA spokesman Mamnkeli Ngam said in July 2017 that the department “was not aware” of any judgment against the two and thus could not comment on the matter. This is unacceptable.

  • The ANC, which leads both the Eastern Cape legislature and the executive department where the two men are now employed, must publicly condemn the evasion of justice by the pair, and strengthen institutional safeguards preventing those guilty of sexual misconduct from taking up senior positions in government.
  • Parliament must prioritise policy development to address the gaps in law and policy regarding the conduct and discipline of staff at legislatures and within the public service.

 

For comment contact:

  • Lisa Vetten, gender violence specialist, 082 822 6725
  • Vivienne Mentor-Lalu Women and Democracy Initiative, Dullah Omar Institute, 082 494 0788
  • Sanja Bornman, Lawyers for Human Rights, 083 522 2933

  

Relevant Policy

Municipal staff are covered by the Municipal Systems Act of 2000, and staff in government departments by the amended Public Service Act of 1994. The regulations to the Public Service Act has a four-year prohibition against re-employing someone in the public service if there was a disciplinary finding that they committed sexual harassment. However, it only applies to people who were found guilty – not those who resigned prior to the finalisation of proceedings. The regulations also require any public service employee to immediately report to the relevant authorities any act which constitutes a contravention of any law (not limited to criminal offences) and any act which is prejudicial to the interests of the public which comes to their attention.

But the Public Service Act only applies specifically to those who work the public service, and not those employed in other spheres of the state. This means there is a gap around the appointments and dismissals of staff of legislatures who have been charged with sexual harassment. Staff employed by the legislatures are covered by labour legislation generally, and any internal policy that may have been developed. #NotOurLeaders has been unable to locate internal policies regarding staff at the legislatures.

 

RELATED MEDIA STORIES

http://www.dispatchlive.co.za/politics/2017/07/03/commission-finds-manager-duo-guilty/

http://www.dispatchlive.co.za/news/2017/06/05/top-posts-two-despite-scandals-appointment-sex-pals-jobs-officials-infuriates-union/

https://www.sowetanlive.co.za/sundayworld/news/2017-10-10-alleged-sex-pest-gets-new-job-at-csir-despite-two-rape-accusations/

 

About the #NotOurLeaders campaign

During this year’s 16 Days of Activism, the Women and Democracy Initiative (WDI) of the Dullah Omar Institute at the University of the Western Cape, Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), and gender violence specialist, Lisa Vetten, turn the spotlight on political representatives accused of sexual violence and the practices that protect and enable their sexual misconduct and abuse. By contrasting the range of incidents reported with parties’ inconsistent – even non-existent – responses, the campaign aims to demonstrate the chasm between political-speak and political actions on sexual violence.

The campaign emphasises the need for strong political leadership by all political parties and representatives in tackling the pervasive problem of sexual violence in South Africa.

 

GENDER POLITICS, POLITICS

Case 4 #NotOurLeaders – Political parties don’t suspend members charged with rape against children

#NotOurLeaders

16 Days of Activism to end violence against women

Press Release

 

POLITICAL PARTIES DON’T SUSPEND MEMBERS CHARGED WITH SEXUAL OFFENCES – EVEN WHEN CHARGED WITH RAPE AGAINST CHILDREN

CASE 4: Unnamed ANC Councillor, JS Moroka Municipality

In May of this year an unnamed ANC councillor was accused of raping a 16-year old girl. He was released on bail of R5 000 by the Mdutjana Magistrate’s Court in Siyabuswa, Mpumalanga and the next court date set for 23 June. Rather than suspending the councillor, the ANC in the Nkangala region chose to place him on special leave pending the outcome of the case. Spokesperson Sello Matshoga indicated that the councillor would only have been suspended if the state had succeeded in opposing bail and presented evidence in court of a strong case. No further information about the progress of this case is available.

ANC is inconsistent in its approach

“The ANC is inconsistent in its stance towards members who are accused of sexual offences,” said Lisa Vetten, a gender violence specialist. “On Monday 27 #NotOurLeaders highlighted the case of Winterveldt councillor Sipho Maselane who is appearing in the Ga-Rankuwa magistrates court today (30 November) on multiple counts of rape and robbery. He has neither been suspended, nor placed on ‘special leave.’ We’ve also highlighted how the ANC acted against Marius Fransman even though the criminal investigation had not been concluded,” she said.

Another very recent example is Simon Mofokeng, the mayor of Emfuleni who distributed pictures of a semi-nude 14-year old girl to other ANC leaders via WhatsApp in October of this year. Although Mofokeng has not been formally charged with a criminal offence yet, he was placed on ‘special leave’ on 30 October and an internal investigation launched into the matter. Although Mofokeng resigned on 20 November he is not necessarily off the hook, as the ANC is reported to be still considering further disciplinary action against him.

Reluctance to suspend party members accused of sexual offences is evident across parties

The ANC is not the only party to take the path of least resistance when confronted by party members charged with sexual offences.

“On Tuesday #NotOurLeaders highlighted the case of a deputy mayor, Mncedisi Maphisa, who has been charged with sexual assault. He has not been suspended or placed on special leave by the IFP. In yet another example a DA councillor from Clanwilliam in the Western Cape was accused in March of sexually assaulting a 13-year old girl and arrested. The DA also said they would not suspend him until the criminal case has been concluded. They’ve since been able to duck the issue as the councillor had not paid his membership fees and is therefore no longer a member of the DA,” said Sanja Bornman of Lawyers for Human Rights.

Avoiding internal disciplinary procedures while criminal cases are pending

“Criminal charges are serious. It’s unacceptable that parties claim – and only in some instances – that they must wait for the outcome of a criminal trial before they can act. This is a cop out. They are not powerless to act,” says Vivienne Mentor Lalu of the Women and Democracy Initiative. “Legally, there is no requirement to wait. In fact, political parties (like employers) should run internal processes as soon as they are aware of the allegations against their members regardless of the criminal justice process. That would show that they are serious about addressing sexual violence.”

The ANC must act

  • The #NotOurLeaders campaign calls on the ANC to provide further information on the progress of the case against the Mpumalanga councillor.
  • We also call on the ANC make clear its position on the processes to be followed when a member is accused of a sexual offence. A statement must be issued in this regard and every effort made to ensure that this policy is routinely and consistently applied.
  • #NotOurLeaders reiterates its call to immediately suspend Sipho Maselane and undertake an internal disciplinary investigation of his conduct. The national office should also investigate the Tshwane ANC’s handling of Maselane’s matter.

All parties must act

  • The #NotOurLeaders campaign challenges all parties to develop procedures for suspending political representatives accused of sexual offences.

 

For comment contact:

  • Lisa Vetten, gender violence specialist, 082 822 6725
  • Vivienne Mentor-Lalu, Women and Democracy Initiative, Dullah Omar Institute, 082 494 0788
  • Sanja Bornman, Lawyers for Human Rights, 083 522 2933

 

About the #NotOurLeaders campaign

During this year’s 16 Days of Activism, the Women and Democracy Initiative (WDI) of the Dullah Omar Institute at the University of the Western Cape, Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), and gender violence specialist, Lisa Vetten, turn the spotlight on political representatives accused of sexual violence and the practices that protect and enable their sexual misconduct and abuse. By contrasting the range of incidents reported with parties’ inconsistent – even non-existent – responses, the campaign aims to demonstrate the chasm between political-speak and political actions on sexual violence.

The campaign emphasises the need for strong political leadership by all political parties and representatives in tackling the pervasive problem of sexual violence in South Africa.

CRIMINAL CASES AND INTERNAL DISCIPLINARY ACTION

Criminal trials and disciplinary actions are separate processes, with different purposes and levels of proof needed. This is why withdrawal of charges, or an acquittal in a criminal court does not always mean an incident did not happen. It means that the state could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it happened. The purpose of an internal disciplinary process, in most cases, is to maintain behavioural standards and create a safe working environment – which employers are required by law to do. The onus of proof is lower in internal disciplinary processes than it is in criminal trials. In these processes the case must be proved on a balance of probabilities – so they look at what is more probable. Internal disciplinary processes can and should run at the same time that a criminal trial is running. They also can and should be run, when the allegations constitute misconduct, even when there is no criminal case.