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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

Media Statement: Commission to lay criminal charges against the Municipal Manager of Thembisile Hani Local Municipality

Attention: Editors and Reporters

25 July 2019

On 24 July 2019, the South African Human Rights Commission (“Commission”) convened a subpoena hearing in terms of section 15(1)(c) and (d) of the South African Human Rights Commission Act 40 of 2013 (“SAHRC Act”), following the repeated failure of the Thembisile Hani Local Municipality (“Municipality”) to respond to allegations levelled against it by Mr Joseph Sibanyoni (“Mr Sibanyoni”) on 16 November 2018 and Ms Thembi Mahlangu (“Ms Mahlangu”) on 18 January 2019, respectively.

The complaint by Mr Sibanyoni related to lack of adequate water provision to the residents within the jurisdiction of the Municipality, whilst the complaint from Ms Mahlangu related to alleged illegal evictions by the Municipality without a court order.

On 2 July 2019, the Municipal Manager, Mr Nkosi, was contacted telephonically by a representative of the Commission, advising him of the intended subpoena hearing on 24 July 2019. During the telephone discussion with the representative of the Commission, Mr Nkosi welcomed the opportunity to come before the Commission and undertook to attend the hearing, with the view to responding to the allegations that have been levelled against the Municipality. Subsequent to the telephone discussion with Mr Nkosi, the notice of the subpoena hearing was formally served on him at his principal place of business through his secretary, Ms Grace Masilela, on 3 July 2019.

Despite Mr Nkosi’s undertaking to attend the hearing and the service of the subpoena notice on him on 3 July 2019, Mr Nkosi failed and/or refused and/or neglected to attend the subpoena hearing as scheduled.

When Mr Nkosi was telephonically contacted at the start of the subpoena hearing on 24 July 2019 to inquire about his whereabouts, he did not dispute receipt of the subpoena notice or discussing his attendance at the subpoena hearing with a representative of the Commission on 2 July 2019. He, however, advised that he was not in a position to attend the subpoena hearing, as he was not reminded of the subpoena hearing by his secretary,

Sections 22(a), (d) and (h) of the SAHRC Act provides that that any person who without just cause, refuses or fails to comply with a notice under section 15(1)(c) of the SAHRC Act, or in connection with any investigation does anything which, if such investigation were proceeding in a court of law, would have constituted contempt of court or fails to afford the Commission the necessary assistance referred to in section 4(2) or 13(4) of the SAHRC Act, shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months.

Having considered submissions made regarding Mr Nkosi’s failure and/or neglect to comply with the subpoena notice, the Chairperson of the subpoena hearing found that Mr Nkosi’s failure to comply with the subpoena notice is without just cause and constitutes a contempt of the Commission’s processes, as well as a failure to afford the necessary assistance to the Commission as contemplated in sections 22(a), (d) and (h) of the SAHRC Act.

In light of the above findings, the hearing Chairperson directed that criminal proceedings be instituted against Mr Nkosi, as his failure to comply with the subpoena notice makes him guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months.

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For further information or enquiries, please contact: SAHRC Mpumalanga Provincial Manager, Mr. E Mokonyama (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; 013 – 752 5890/078 670 4360).

The South African Human Rights Commission.

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About us

The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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