FXI director says college head is pressurising her

FUMING: FXI executive director Jane Duncan. © Sowetan.
FUMING: FXI executive director Jane Duncan. © Sowetan.

Alf Moselakgomo

Alf Moselakgomo

A director of the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) is fuming because, she says, the head of a college in Mpumalanga is trying to gag her.

Jane Duncan yesterday said she was being pressured by Pat Zwane, chief executive of the Ehlanzeni College for Further Education and Training, in Mpumalanga, to withdraw comment she made about him in Sowetan on Monday.

Duncan was commenting on an allegation that a human resources clerk at the college, Hlobisile Maziya, 24, had been unfairly dismissed.

Maziya claimed she was fired because she turned down Zwane's sexual advances.

She was was later reinstated after taking her case to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

On Monday, Duncan said Maziya had every right to expose her boss if he had harassed her.

Duncan claims that Zwane started to pressure her soon after her comment was published.

"He phoned me and said I was barking up the wrong tree and objected that I did not speak to the college first to establish the facts," Duncan said.

She said Zwane demanded that she withdraw her statement, which she refused to do.

Duncan said the FXI generally does not contact the parties concerned in a dispute when it makes comment about the dispute. Instead it relies on the accuracy of the information obtained by journalists.

"We did not contact the college, but we did not speak to the complainant either," she said.

"Zwane said the college was preparing a statement about my comment and he wanted to speak to me first," said Duncan.

She said that if the report were inaccurate, Zwane would have contacted Sowetan.

"People who are written about have rights, and they also have recourse to enforce those rights, including recourse to the editor, and even the press ombudsman, if they feel their rights have been violated.

"If a story contains incorrect information, we will readily concede that the comment was misplaced. But he needs to prove this."

She said that because Zwane had phoned her to complain, and not Sowetan, she believed that he did not have a case and had phoned her to pressure her into changing her comments.

"This will not happen until he establishes the inaccuracy of the report. If he does not, then he will have created the impression that he has problems with freedom of expression," she said.

Zwane refused to comment.