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Alleged sex pest Ekurhuleni official back at work

Despite solid evidence, disciplinary hearing never took place

Jeanette Chabalala Senior Reporter
A senior Ekurhuleni municipal official who was suspended for allegedly making sexual remarks to a female colleague is back at work.
A senior Ekurhuleni municipal official who was suspended for allegedly making sexual remarks to a female colleague is back at work.

A senior Ekurhuleni municipal official who was suspended for allegedly making sexual remarks to a female colleague by demanding that she “stab” him with her breasts is back at work.

Lefu Makhoba, a senior manager for case management and litigation, confirmed he returned  to work this month after accusations of sexual harassment were levelled against him by the female colleague.

Makhoba, who said his disciplinary hearing is ongoing, declined to comment further and instead referred Sowetan to his employer.  

The allegations of sexual harassment were investigated by acting municipal commissioner Revo Spies.  Sources within the municipality said the disciplinary hearings for Makhoba never took place. 

Municipal spokesperson Zweli Dlamini and municipal manager Imogen Mashazi did not respond to questions sent to them.

Last week Sowetan reported  that Brig Julius Mkhwanazi, a director of specialised services at the Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department (EMPD), returned to work without facing a disciplinary hearing for charges of  making bluelight services available to a friend. He was suspended on six charges in February and returned to work in August.

In Makhoba’s case the complainant wrote in her statement that Makhoba made improper advances in October last year at a parking lot at the Benoni labour relations office.

The woman said Makhoba hugged her without her consent, kissed her neck and told her that she looked beautiful.

This, she said, left her feeling “violated and exploited”.  

In another incident in December, Makhoba greeted her, told her she looked beautiful, and then said: “khaundihlabe ngamabele” (stab me with your boobs), held out his hands and arms, and gestured for a hug.

Makhoba allegedly pulled the woman from her chair, held her tight, and then looked at another colleague and said he was going to “steal me away from my boyfriend”.

“He is abusing the power he has, to give me instructions on a professional level, to lure me into his office and sexually harass me. I have been reluctant to report the occasions on which I have been sexually harassed by Mr Makhoba because I have been afraid of being victimised by him as my direct line supervisor and a senior manager and afraid that my report may be destructive to the employment relationship,” she said in her statement.  

“I am uncomfortable, afraid, intimidated by the very thought of having to wake up and see Mr Makhoba’s face. More so that he [has] shown me that he is brazen enough to sexually harass me in front of another manager within the employee relations division.”

In April, Makhoba said he was not in a position to issue a statement without seeing the full details of the allegations against him.

“I will present myself at the disciplinary hearing after receiving the charge sheet and the bundle of witness statements,” he said at the time.

However, a month later an investigation conducted by the municipality found that the alleged misconduct was of a serious nature and warranted an urgent  course of action against Makhoba. 

During the investigation,  colleagues working with both Makhoba and the complainant were interviewed.

Of the 10 people who submitted statements, four corroborated the alleged misconduct.  

An internal investigation found that “on a balance of probability, there is sufficient proof and corroboration from fellow colleagues who attest to witnessing this alleged misconduct, which must be tested before a tribunal”.

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