Freelance journalist Douglas Mthukwane was fired as Saftu national spokesperson after the trade federation discovered an ’alarming pattern’ of rape allegations against him.
FREELANCE journalist and former national spokesperson of the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) Douglas Mthukwane has indicated that he has approached the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to enforce an arbitration award that was issued in February.
Mthukwane was appointed by Saftu on October 1, 2019 and was dismissed in January 2020 after the trade federation discovered an “alarming pattern” of rape allegations – dating back to 2016, 2018 and 2019 – and an attempted rape conviction in 1995 while conducting a background check on Mthukwane.
A case involving the alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl was provisionally withdrawn in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court in 2016.
According to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the trial relating to four of the rape charges will be heard in the Northern Cape High Court next year, based on the “seriousness of the allegations”.
Mthukwane has stated that he was “arbitrarily fired” as Saftu national spokesperson.
“It will be a sad day if I do not challenge the flagrant abuse and undermining of the labour laws of this country,” said Mthukwane. “I was fired by Saftu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi through the media without subjecting me to due process. No worker in this country should be treated like this.
“Vavi himself was accused of sexual harassment while at Saftu, nothing happened to him. His vile actions have rendered me permanently unemployable to date.
“Saftu has a propensity not to respect the law and this can’t be left unchallenged. Saftu did not comply with two CCMA awards in my dispute with them.
“I have nothing personal against Vavi, the trade union office sex pest, but I am fighting a matter of principle so that no trade union employee should undergo what I underwent at the behest of the salacious Joseph Zwelinzima Vavi.”
Mthukwane further accused Vavi and his bodyguard of threatening him with a gun at the Saftu headquarters.
“Why did Vavi carry firearms to a staff meeting when he was bickering with president Mac Chavalala over who has more powers in the federation?”
Vavi stated that the arbitration award had been fully complied with and amicably settled.
“In our letter of appointment, we categorically stated that we were still doing background and criminal record checks and that should the result come back positive we reserved the right to retract the appointment,” said Vavi.
“The criminal offences were not disclosed during the interview. Upon finalising the background check, I had a friendly discussion with him as a big brother and asked him what he would do if he was in my position. I advised him to sit at home because we have women working in the office. We also allowed him to work an extra month with full pay before his employment was terminated.”
Vavi explained that a person in his position required the presence of a bodyguard.