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


16 Days of Activism to end violence against women

Press Release



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 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.


Trafficking is alive and well in SA, but we shouldn’t forget other rapes

By Jen Thorpe

Last night I attended the LexisNexis screening of a documentary called ‘Redlight’ about human trafficking for sexual purposes in Cambodia. The documentary followed three stories of young girls that had been trafficked, and had escaped the traffickers and returned home. Some had been kidnapped, and others sold by their parents. The girls were between 8 and 12 when they were trafficked, and the documentary caught up with them when they were all younger than sixteen.

I felt uncomfortable with the way that these young women were interviewed – one had only been rescued two days earlier and was clearly traumatised, and still in need of some private time to process what had happened to her. Another girl who was sold by her mother, was forced to talk with her mother who said that she would do the same again, on camera. In my opinion it was exploitation of these young women’s stories to prove a point that we know already – trafficking is wrong and has devastating effects on those involved.

What was really great about the evening was the panel discussion afterwards. Panelists included Advocate Thoko Majokweni (National Director of Public Prosecution: Sexual Offences and Community Affairs), Advocate Beatri Kruger (Professor at the Department of Criminal and Medical Law, UFS), Thora Mansfield (Director and Founder of Open Door Crisis Centre) and Marcel van der Watt (Lecturer at UNISA: Crimes against women and children and human trafficking). They discussed the reality of trafficking in South Africa, and argued that it was more prevalent than we know.

Currently there is a trafficking bill on the cards before Parliament, but sensibly no new law will be passed before a costing is done.  So now it will be up to the relevant govt departments to include their estimated costs for this problem, before the law will be passed. According to this panel, trafficking is happening in South Africa. Van Der Watt said that “human commodities as young as ten are being sold for as little as R2000” within our cities.

I completely agree that trafficking is a sensitive crime – the survivors are often reluctant to testify because of the stigma they face from their communities, their trauma, and because of trafficking is normally linked to incredibly powerful members of organised crime. Sometimes survivors are not from the country they are trafficked to – Advocate Majokweni said that in South Africa the highest percentages of trafficked people came from India and Thailand. In addition the perpetrators are not always from the country in which the crime is perpetrated. You need johns to testify that they bought the trafficked person. It is complex, and I am 100% for the thorough investigation and prosecution of this crime, and for the psychosocial and medical support (many are addicted to drugs as a result of being trafficked) of the survivors. The solution requires a multi-disciplinary approach, and requires all stakeholders to work together. This is indisputable.

What I am concerned about is the prioritisation of particular types of rape over others. All sexual offences require a multi-disciplinary response and support for survivors. All sexual offences cause severe trauma to survivors – in fact, many survivors suffer from Rape Trauma Syndrome which includes behavioural, physical and psychological symptoms.

The legislation that exists on sexual offences is comprehensive, but is not being implemented effectively. The policy framework for this legislation was due in 2009 and has not yet been published, though it is the process of being put through parliament.

Survivors cannot expect standardised services from criminal justice system officials – the services vary from day to day, from site to site. Remedying this problem should be priority.  Ensuring that this legislation is costed for the relevant departments and budget is allocated in order to allow it to be applied should be priority.

When you sell someone to someone else to have sex with, that is rape. When you steal someone away from their home that is kidnapping. When you beat someone you have stolen that is assault GBH.  When children are forced to commit sexual acts, there are even more substantial laws. These crimes exist already, and there are clear laws and policies about what to do with perpetrators and victims. Something that would be useful for South Africa to do would be to criminalise South Africans who commit trafficking, or buy trafficked people in other countries.

We cannot prioritise certain victims of sexual offences, and pit them against one another in terms of access to services. We need specialised, good services to all survivors across the country.