Mayor slaps subordinate with R1 million rand lawsuit
A small Free State town’s mayor is suing one of her general workers for R1 million over a story that appeared in Sunday World in July.
Nketoana Local Municipality mayor Maditswako Mokoena slapped her subordinate Mangaliso Hlongwane with a hefty lawsuit for defamation of character.
To add salt to injury, Hlongwane has also been suspended from work after leading a service delivery march against his employer two weeks ago.
Mokoena’s lawyers, Alberts Attorneys sent a letter of demand to Hlongwane two weeks ago demanding a payment of R1 million within 10 days for soiling the reputation of their client.
The letter, which we have seen, reads in part: “A statement was made by yourself to a journalist Boitumelo Kgobotlo from a national newspaper, Sunday World, and as a result the following was publicized in a local newspaper:
“Assault victim and municipal worker, Mangaliso Hlongwane, told of how Maditswako slapped him across the face and punched him following a legal dispute.
“The mayor targeted me because even though I worked for the municipality, I am still a community activist, helping raise service delivery issues. They gave me this job to try and gag me, but I refuse to be bought.”
Hlongwane, 40, from Mamafubedu township outside Reitz, said he was shocked when he read the letter that was handed to him by the sheriff on Wednesday.
“I don’t understand how they can even say that I have lied under oath because we haven’t even appeared before the court of law.
“There are no developments in my case but they are already claiming that I lied under oath. They based their claims on the statement I made to the police and the information I gave to Sunday World,” he said.
He claimed that the mayor is trying to find ways that will make him drop the assault case he opened against her.
The municipal employee and community activist said he led a peaceful march to hand over a memorandum to the municipal office for service delivery in the town.
He then received a suspension letter from municipal manager Mzwandile Manzi, which he said was suspicious.
“The signature on the letter does not appear to be Mr Manzi’s and the messenger who came to give me the letter seemed restless,” he said.
Hlongwane said the messenger would normally show up with two letters, the original and a copy.
“The messenger only presented one letter which I refused to sign,” he said, adding that he was currently on leave.
The suspension letter, which we have seen, gave him 48 hours to present reasons why he should continue to be employed by the municipality.
Mokoena’s phone rang unanswered and she did not respond to questions sent to her via SMS.
Manzi was also unavailable for comment.