Publication: Business Day Issued: Date: 2008-06-25 Reporter: Wyndham Hartley Reporter:

Armscor Head Ducks MPs' Questions on CEO's 'Abuse'



Business Day

Date 2008-06-25
Reporter Wyndham Hartley
Web Link

Parliamentary Editor

CAPE TOWN Embattled Armscor CEO Sipho Thomo yesterday survived an attempt by a parliamentary committee to get details of the findings of a hard-hitting report which allegedly recommends he be suspended and investigated for victimisation of staff members.

Armscor board chairman Popo Molefe angered MPs when he told Parliament's defence committee the matter of a report on Thomo's behaviour was "sub judice" and he would decide whether or not to answer their questions. Thomo has been accused of abusing Armscor's GM for corporate affairs, Ntahli Borotho.

She has been on leave of absence for more than 10 months because of the breakdown of her relationship with Thomo. It has been reported that the investigation into the matter, launched by a subcommittee of the Armscor board and supported by a parallel legal probe, says Thomo's comments to and about Borotho were "insensitive, derogatory and, in terms of Armscor policies, could be regarded as sexual harassment".

Molefe said the matter was off-limits because those involved had not been given a chance to comment on the report and they were not protected by parliamentary privilege. He suggested he brief the committee on the processes being followed and, once the process was concluded, Armscor would return to the committee with a full report. This should be possible by about mid-July.

Molefe said it would be a travesty of justice if those accused read about it in the press before they had responded to the findings of the report.

Democratic Alliance MP Sayadelli Shah asked Molefe what court proceedings were under way that made the report sub judice. He insisted the committee had the authority to ask and get answers to any questions it wanted to ask. However, Molefe said the report might prejudice the parties involved, and evaded the questions.

Acting committee chairman African National Congress MP Samangamane Ntuli wanted to know why, when the board had been given its report in March, Molefe was unable to answer questions. He also reminded Molefe that the committee had a right to get answers.

Borotho alleges she has been victimised in her performance assessment and had been humiliated by public comments made by Thomo. Press reports claim the report deals with an incident at a "management board happy hour" where Thomo allegedly made jokes about being the father of Borotho's baby *1.

The report apparently recommended she be allowed to return to work and her performance be reassessed, and Thomo be suspended while disciplinary proceedings were mounted against him.

With acknowledgements to Wyndham Hartley and Business Day.

*1       Never a dull moment when Armscor's at work and at play.