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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

Stan, DG vs own: Allegations of infringement of human rights

17 October 2019

A complaint of alleged violation of human rights and dignity, intimidation, harassment and victimisation lodged against Premier Stan Mathabatha and Director-General Nape Nchabeleng earlier this week is shedding light on the expression of fear of assassination and abduction by Provincial Government Information Technology Officer (PGITO) Lesetja Mathiba. On Monday he turned to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) in Limpopo for urgent intervention and investigation.
Mathiba confirmed that the complaint was registered with the SAHRC in Polokwane in the beginning of the week and provided a copy of the complaint form stipulating the details of both the Premier and the DG. He also brought the matter to the attention of the Public Service Commission (PSC) in the province on 9 July 2019, it was learnt.

Mathiba initially approached the Zondo Commission on 9 April 2019 with evidence about alleged corruption related to the Limpopo Connexion Broadband project after distancing himself from what he regarded to be a form of alleged state capture and several failed attempts to alert the Premier on it.
A copy of correspondence containing the contents of the claims against Limpopo’s first citizen and its highest ranking government official was forwarded to Polokwane Observer along with a stack of documents outlining a perceived toxic war that has reportedly been raging in the passages of the Office of the Premier for some time.
In the letter to the provincial manager of the SAHRC in Limpopo forwarded on Monday, he alluded to the alleged violation of his human rights and dignity over a period of more than three years following his appointment on 1 March 2016. “In the Office of the Premier I am targeted to be eliminated with the aim of using (a) disciplinary action.”

In further correspondence provided the Premier, who reportedly appointed the Chief Director of Legal Services in his office as mediator to facilitate a resolution in procedures following grievances lodged internally and related to alleged intimidation, victimisation and harassment against the Director-General and the Deputy Director-General Eddie Managa in May and July this year, warned him to desist from making unsubstantiated allegations against the Limpopo government or any of its officials. The letter from Mathabatha that was dated 22 May this year, two days after Mathiba claims utterances aimed at him were being made by Nchabeleng in a meeting, was only received via the Labour Relations Unit of the Office of the Premier 60 days later, it was learnt. The DG’s excluding him from participating in a meeting on 20 May this year for approaching the media with allegations of fraud and corruption related to the broadband project and subsequent remarks about Mathiba being a five-minute celebrity and that he would regret it for the rest of his life resulted in him feeling intimidated, harassed and victimised, he said.

In his letter to Mathiba the Premier stated “It has come to my notice that you continuously make certain negative allegations against management in the Provincial Administration in relation to the Limpopo Connection Broadband Network projects contained in your letter dated the 20th May 2019 prepared and dispatched to members of staff and also in your previous correspondences including media interviews.”
By stating that he viewed Mathiba’s conduct in a very serious light, especially for there being no evidence in support of the allegations made, Mathabatha instructed Mathiba to instantly desist from making unsubstantiated allegations against the provincial government and any of its officials. “Should you fail to adhere to this lawful instruction, I will consider taking (a) disciplinary action against you,” the Premier warned in concluding his letter.

Mathiba pointed out that nothing had come of the grievances and the Premier’s delayed response was seen to be in contravention of the Protected Disclosures Act, No 26 of 2000, which superseded the regulations of the Office of the Premier.
Mathiba indicated he intended to forward copies of his response to the letter from his superior which he dated Tuesday to the Presidency, the Minister of Public Service and Administration, the PSC in Limpopo, the Limpopo Hawks, the Public Protector nationally, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the Auditor-General (AG) in Limpopo, the Legislature, the ruling party’s Provincial Executive Committee (PEC), alliance partners and affiliates South African Communist Party (SACP), Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) in Limpopo, opposition parties Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Democratic Alliance (DA) in the province and a handful of non-governmental organisations operating nationally. In it he raises concern over, among others, suspected misconduct, flawed tender processes, verbal attacks and sentiments opposing him.

Comment Office of the Permier

Mathabatha’s spokesperson, Kenny Mathivha responded saying the Office of the Premier would wait to see what transpired following the cases made with the institutions approached and abide by it, but also look at the factors using all prescripts of the law and applicable regulations pertaining to the conduct of staff members. He referred to the government policy prohibiting any staff members, including the DG, to approach the media unless with permission from the DG or appointed as a spokesperson for the department. In actual fact Mathiba should have been charged for contravening the regulations but was verbally charged, he added.
The allegations pertaining to the broadband project have been tested internally and in the absence of proof substantiating the claims the project has continued, he indicated.

He concluded with the reference to the Zondo Commission having written to several department heads in the province as part of a preliminary enquiry into the allegations surrounding the broadband project.

SAHRC confirmation
At the time of going to press SAHRC Provincial Manager Victor Mavhidula confirmed that a complaint has been filed with them against Nchabeleng on Monday. He said once the complaint has been registered the complainant would receive the acknowledgement letter.

The South African Human Rights Commission.

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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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