'Not true that I've chickened out' of sexual harassment hearing - Pule Mabe's former PA
10 January 2019
The woman who has accused ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe of sexual harassment has denied that being unable to attend his hearing this week is proof that she has cold feet over her claims.
News24 understands she told the ANC this week that she was not available to appear at the second sitting of a commission into the sexual harassment claims she levelled against Mabe in December 2018.
"I am shocked that Pule went against the wishes of the ANC and revealed that the hearing was meant to sit today," said his former personal assistant, when contacted for comment by News24.
Mabe, who had been meeting with community members and campaigning in Ntazuma, KwaZulu-Natal, ahead of the ANC's election manifesto launch on Saturday, confirmed to journalists that the second sitting of his hearing had been postponed.
"As I said to some journalists who asked over the weekend, we were supposed to sit today [Wednesday], but there was a postponement at the eleventh hour at the request of the complainant," Mabe said.
He reiterated his commitment towards a speedy resolution, insisting he was ready to plead his case to the committee, which is made up of senior party leaders, including Thoko Didiza and Sdumo Dlamini.
However, the woman explained to News24 that she could not agree to the second sitting knowing full well that she would not be able to make it to the meeting.
"It was communicated to me late and I already had family commitments, I am only in Durban for ANC celebrations from Thursday, so it would not have made sense to agree to a date where I knew I wouldn't be available," she explained.
"It's not true that I've chickened out, because had I chickened out I would not have reported the matter to the police," added Mabe's former PA.
Both Mabe and his former assistant refused to discuss the actual case, with Mabe saying he had no right to discuss the merits of the case, and the 26-year-old woman saying she would respect the ANC's request not to speak about the matter.
"I will still subject myself to how the ANC has advised, not to speak to the media. I am shocked that Pule went against the wishes of the ANC and revealed that the hearing was meant to sit today," she said.
The 26-year-old, who described working in Mabe's office as the "most horrible four months" of her life, submitted a 14-page letter detailing the alleged sexual harassment, which started from the very first assignment she worked on with Mabe. She claimed the ANC spokesperson forced himself into her bed on two occasions last year.
She also claimed her rejection of his advances resulted in her being ill-treated by Mabe, having her salary cut and eventually being moved from the role.
It's understood Mabe has argued that his former assistant lied about her qualifications before she was appointed for the job.
When asked if he believed those who said this matter was political, Mabe said he was not "interested in that", but if there was a political hand, they were going to be "shocked and embarrassed."
"It's very important in matters like this that we allow truths and facts to prevail. I want to tell the people of South Africa the truth, and facts will prevail in this matter," said Mabe.
The ANC spokesperson, who is currently on leave from that role pending the outcome of the inquiry, also strongly denied claims that he and his former assistant had an intimate relationship of sorts in the past.
"That's hogwash," exclaimed Mabe.
He insisted that he and the complainant related to each other as comrades, who had a respectful and decent relationship with one another.
"Something like that doesn't exist, will never exist, can't exist. We relate as comrades," said Mabe.
He acknowledged seeing a number of messages circulating on social media, including texts which some claim to have been sent by Mabe to his former PA, but he said these were all lies.
"The mistake they made is they use an 083 number I've never had. It doesn't matter how many times you speak about that, it's a lie," said Mabe.
The woman told News24 a new date for the hearing has been set and she would avail herself for it.