THE mayor of a North West municipality who has been accused of harassment is set to face off with his accuser in court today to overturn an interim protection order granted against him.
Rustenburg local municipality mayor Mpho Khunou’s lawyers will today seek to overturn the order in the Tlhabane magistrate’s court which was obtained by his former colleague Sinah Makgatlha, 35, who further clamed they were in a romantic relationship, but he has denied this.
Makgatlha has also accused Khunou of allegedly distributing her nudes and private messages between the two of them to a third party, who then circulated them to at least seven ANC WhatsApp groups.
They are both members of the party.
In October, Makgatlha opened two cases – crimen injuria and defamation – against Khunou.
Sinah Makgatlha,35, has resigned from the municipality.
Provincial police spokesperson Brig Sabata Mokgwabone confirmed to Sowetan yesterday that two cases were opened in October.
“The complainant alleges that her nude pictures were allegedly shared with unknown people through social media,” said Mokgwabone.
Khunou rejected the allegations against him, saying they are “without any basis”.
“There is no nude picture I have shared. I have disclosed conversation as part of my legal response to her allegations,” Khunou said.
On December 15, Makgatlha approached the court, where she was granted the order that warned Khunou against:
Harassing, intimidating and/or threatening (the) complainant;
Transmit, broadcast and/or distributing intimate images of the complainant; and
Extorting and/or attempting to extort the complainant.
The document further prevents Khonou from communicating directly or indirectly with Makgatlha.
Khonou has denied all the allegations against him, referring Sowetan to affidavits in the matter opposing the order that was granted.
Makgatlha, a former senior administrator at themunicipality’s infrastructure department, alleged she started dating Khunou in 2018.
She said they broke up after Khunou allegedly pressured her to become a witness in a work-related dispute against another employee.
Makgatlha said she resigned shortly after their separation and decided she would focus on community work with a focus on gender-based violence (GBV). She said she was a survivor of GBV.
“He started to harass me for the work I did. On 8 September, I then approached Scopa (Standing Committee on Public Accounts) and told them about all the corruption that I was privy to because I handled important documents in my office,” said Makgatlha, a mother of three.
She said on 19 September, she received a threatening text message from Khonou in which he accused her of being “a greedy conniving who likes blackmailing people to get money out of them…You signed off on payments for water tankers and blackmailed service providers for payments”.
The text message is also contained in the letter of demand which Makgatlha’s lawyers used when applying for the interim protection order.
Makgatlha said Khunou defamed and caused her emotional harm by sharing her images, their texts and voice messages, which appeared on ANC WhatsApp groups.
“A day before those images circulated, I had three men breaking into my house. They demanded my laptop and cellphone. I was with my nanny and kids. I pressed the panic button to chase them away,” said Makgatlha.
The following day, a third party shared that information to the groups which came as a shock to her.
“Only Mpho and I had those naked images of myself. Nobody else had them. He is the one who circulated them out of spite. I’m being victimised by a highly powerful person with connections in Rustenburg. He is trusted to uphold the constitution of this country.
“I’m now taking depression medication to cope with this abuse. I had recovered [from GBV] when I met Mpho. I just want him to publicly apologise for what he has done to me.”
Harassment allegations a political ploy by political rivals
Mpho Khunou, the Rustenburg mayor accused of harassment, believes the allegations against him are politically driven.
Khunou said there is an ANC provincial elective congress coming in March and that Sina Makgatlha, the woman claiming to be his former lover, was being used to tarnish his image.
In his responding affidavit to the interim protection order obtained by Makgatlha on December 15, Khunou denied being in a romantic relationship with her.
He also alleged that Makgatlha was part of an ANC faction that wanted to discredit him ahead of the elective congress.
“The complainant befriended my mother. She attended family gatherings with my mother and also started to continuously ask me for money and made romantic advances to me.
“In some instance I helped her financially out of respect for my mother. In fact, I [later] blocked her from communicating with me any further …”read the affidavit.
He said the allegations of harassment were not true as he was the one who blocked Makgatlha on WhatsApp.
Khunou said Makgatlha had no evidence linking him to the housebreaking incident at her house and also rejected claims that he was responsible for her nudes being distributed on social media.
“I have no doubt that this application is borne from a well orchestrated campaign driven by my political opponents in which the complainant plays an integral part,” read Khunou‘s affidavit. – Sowetan