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Mashatile's spokesperson Vukani Mde suspended amid sex allegations

Alleged victim 'a senior female staffer' who is a direct report

Vukani Mde, who is Deputy President Paul Mashatile's spokesperson, has been suspended amid sexual harassment allegations. File photo.
Vukani Mde, who is Deputy President Paul Mashatile's spokesperson, has been suspended amid sexual harassment allegations. File photo.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi

The Presidency on Wednesday announced the suspension of Vukani Mde, spokesperson for Deputy President Paul Mashatile. 

Mde is suspended with full pay amid allegations of sexual harassment.

In a statement, the Presidency said: "In light of the gravity of the allegations made against Mr Mde, [the Presidency] has decided to suspend him with immediate effect with full emoluments.

“Mde has assured us of his willingness to co-operate with the investigation and the entire process to clear his name. The decision to suspend Mr Mde is also to ensure that the alleged victim feels protected during this process.” 

Mde's suspension comes after a Sunday World article at the weekend in which allegations were made that Mashatile and his chief of staff, Mduduzi Mbada, were protecting Mde who had a sexual harassment complaint filed against him.

The victim is reported to be a senior female staffer who directly reported to Mde.

The publication alleged that Mde allegedly sent the victim “messages that are sexual in nature to her work cellphone number”, passed unwelcome comments about her “sex life and her looks” and proposed love while communicating work instructions. 

In a statement issued on Monday, Mashatile's office dismissed as false allegations that they were shielding Mde.

“The chief of staff has briefed the deputy president that a letter of intention to suspend Mr Mde, in light of the allegations against him, was issued and hand-delivered to the spokesperson, Mr Vukani Mde,” read the statement. 

It further pronounced Mashatile's condemnation of any form of gender-based violence, saying it was giving attention to the matter.

Mashatile's office has since announced that Itumeleng Mafatshe, director of content development and speech writing, will act as the chief director for the communications unit, while Keith Khoza, who is Mashatile's political adviser, will act as his spokesperson in the interim. 

TimesLIVE


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