South Africa

Staff in fear as sexual harassment accused Centre for the Book director returns

Staff in fear as sexual harassment accused Centre for the Book director returns
Cape Town - The managing director of the Centre for the Book, Mandla Matyumza, who has been embroiled in allegations of sexual harassment, mismanagement and misconduct, is set to return to his job after sitting at home with full pay, fighting his suspension.

Staff at the centre, which falls under the National Library of SA (NLSA), are reportedly fearing Matyumza’s return.

Briefing the National Assembly arts and culture committee, the NLSA said they received several letters from staff raising concerns about Matyumza’s return.

The board then decided to further delay his return to March 31, 2020.

In August, Matyumza was found guilty on all sexual harassment charges and was dismissed. He was also suspended for misconduct last year, with a disciplinary hearing finding him guilty on four of seven charges, with a recommended sanction of dismissal.

However, the NLSA withdrew the dismissal before an appeals process and a separate Labour Court battle could take place after obtaining legal advice that it would be too costly to litigate.

Matyumza was thus reinstated, but was again suspended in December last year over allegations that he had offered freelance contractors work at the centre in exchange for sexual favours.

NLSA chairperson, Thomas Dlamini said: “Ten allegations surfaced and among them were maladministration, ineffective leadership, inappropriate behaviour, irregular procurement and unprofessional behaviour.

“The costs of this investigation was around R142000.”

Poet and activist Bulelwa Basse is among the women Matyumza allegedly made advances to.

“During the investigation, when I had testified I told the investigators allowing Mandla to return to the Centre of the Book will be akin to a paedophile returning to a crèche.

“I am very disappointed with the outcome and that we find ourselves in this situation,” she said yesterday.

Parliament also heard about other corruption and maladministration at other entities within the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC).

The National Arts Council (NAC), the NLSA and the SA Heritage Resources Agency briefed the committee.

According to the Arts Council, the DAC requested Gobodo Forensic and Investigative Accounting to conduct a forensic investigation pertaining to possible conflicts of interest and alleged undue or irregular award of funding at the NAC. The investigation was completed last year in April.

“Two executive managers were implicated in the report and it was resolved by the council that disciplinary action be instituted against the chief executive officer and the arts development manager.

“The NAC also admitted that due to the financial constraints the disciplinary hearings had on the council, the department will provide financial resources to handle the matters.”

NAC chairperson Hartley Ngoato said: “We have two public protector investigations.

“We have submitted evidence and we are awaiting the outcome.”

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Cape Argus