Joel Avni

Joel Avni

Claims of sexual abuse, victimisation and autocratic management are rocking the state armaments acquisition company Armscor.

Sipho Thomo, chief executive of the state armaments acquisition company, is hammered in a report by a committee appointed by the board.

Popo Molefe, the company's chairman, says the board will next month consider a recommendation that Thomo be suspended and subjected to a disciplinary hearing.

The committee, appointed more than a year ago to investigate allegations of sexual abuse, victimisation and favouritism against the R1,7million-a-year boss, has slammed his behaviour and has recommended that he be suspended and face a disciplinary hearing.

The committee's report also called for the reinstatement of his accuser, general manager of corporate affairs Nthati Borotho, pictured. She has been on paid leave for the past 14 months, pulling in a salary of more than R1,2million a year.

Thomo closed Borotho's department in her absence and distributed its functions among other divisions.

The board received the report from the committee in March. Molefe said yesterday the board would consider the recommendations at its next meeting on June 11.

Borotho filed a grievance against her boss in September 2006, alleging that he had insulted her by making sexual innuendos in front of colleagues and business associates and had victimised her in many ways.

They had once had an excellent relationship, but things soured after she refused to change the wording of a memo that said he had given her the CV of a friend's daughter.

Borotho had also criticised the abilities of a "Greek goddess" secretary Thomo had irregularly promoted to senior management.

The committee's report found Thomo's comments to Borotho at a "happy hour" where he claimed to be the father of her baby were "insensitive, derogatory, and in terms of Armscor's policies could be regarded as sexual harassment".

It found he managed the company with such an iron fist that even his most senior managers distorted the truth when testifying on his behalf. One manager was caught in a lie when the committee unearthed his cellphone records.

The report recommends that Thomo face charges of misconduct for sexual harassment, abuse of authority and dereliction of duty for discrimination and unfair labour practices.

"It is clear that the chief executive is much feared," the report noted, saying that staff feared being victimised, the way "other people have been victimised before".

The committee found that Thomo had continued with the victimisation of Borotho even after she had laid a complaint to the board.

"The management style of the chief executive has led to managers who are willing to lie or distort the truth," the committee said.

l See also page 9.