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Deputy Health Minister accused of sexual assault

A parliamentary staff member has accused Deputy Health Minister Sibongiseni Dhlomo of sexual assault, claiming the incident took place last month at the Minister’s Rondebosch Home.

Dhlomo, however, has denied the accusations, saying the dispute was about a banana that was taken from his fruit bowl by the man.

The case is under investigation by both the police and parliament’s ethics committee, reports TimesLIVE.

Parliament confirmed the matter had been reported to National Assembly speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, who reported it to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Dhlomo is a highly regarded politician, seen as being well-qualified for promotion to full minister of the health portfolio.

The complainant is a researcher employed by an opposition party.

In an affidavit to the ethics committee, the complainant said that what was supposed to have been a meeting to discuss the proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme ended with him fleeing Dhlomo’s home after the Deputy Minister inappropriately touched his genitals before trying to push him on to his bed.

Dhlomo, in his submission to the Ethics Committee, denied the allegation. He made counterclaims that the man invaded his space and “took a banana” from his fruit basket without permission before he chased him away.

The alleged incident took place on 5 September, hours after Ramaphosa’s oral questions session in the National Assembly.

The complainant said it was not his first encounter with the Minister, who had been trying to invite him to his home for about 18 months,“but I have never taken the request seriously”, he said.

This time around, he agreed, “to gauge” views on the NHI.

Shortly after this conversation, Dhlomo WhatsApped his address to the man, who told him he had no petrol money. Dhlomo allegedly transferred R500 to his e-wallet account.

The man said that when he arrived, Dhlomo closed the door and then “tightly embraced me”.

“I moved away …told him this was improper and (I) was not comfortable with that…”

The complainant said Dhlomo ushered him to his bedroom on the pretext that he was preparing for a national council appearance the next day.

“He told me to sit on his bed, while he sat on a sofa going through his work material. I asked him about the NHI, to which he replied that the process was with the NCOP. Nothing further was said.

“He removed his spectacles … leaned towards me, placed his hands on my genitals and tried to push me on the bed. I pushed him away, told him this was improper and I was going to report him.”

The staffer said he fled and drove to Rondebosch police station to report the matter. He said Dhlomo tried to contact him five times while he was en-route.

Health spokesperson Foster Mohale said Dhlomo would wait for the investigations to be concluded before commenting.

Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo confirmed a formal complaint had been submitted to Mapisa-Nqakula, who was treating the allegation with “utmost seriousness”.

In a submission to the ethics body, Dhlomo said his health, safety and security were compromised on the night.

He confirmed meeting the man at Parliament on the day and later in his home, but said they spoke because the complainant had previously called him about the NHI and he had agreed to discuss it.

The Deputy Minister confirmed he sent him R500 for fuel.

At his home, they sat in his bedroom and spoke about the NHI for 10 minutes before his visitor asked to be shown to the kitchen.

“I followed him (and) I found him in front of my open fridge,” he said.

An argument ensued during which the researcher said he was hungry. “He took a banana from my fruit basket,” Dhlomo said. “I was upset and pushed him out of my house… he did not resist.”

Western Cape police spokesperson Colonel Andrè Traut confirmed a sexual assault case had been reported and was under investigation.

 

TimesLIVE article – Deputy health minister Sibongiseni Dhlomo accused of sexual assault (Restricted access)

 

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