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Prosecutor could be axed for ‘witchcraft’

2019-11-10 12:22

Lennox Sitshetshe’s job of sending criminals to jail could be on the line as he stands accused of practising witchcraft in the office.

He is also facing a charge of absconding when he went to meet prosecutions boss Shamila Batohi without an invitation.

And now his employer, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), wants Sitshetshe to answer to these allegations in a disciplinary hearing if he wants to keep his job as a junior prosecutor.

In August, Sitshetshe was placed on suspension following allegations that he sprinkled muti on the floor of an office he shared with colleagues at the East London Magistrate’s Court between July 7 and August 2. He allegedly threatened or attempted to assault a cleaner who wanted to mop the water on the floor.

However, those close to Sitshetshe have defended him, saying he was only fooling around when he sprinkled the water on the floor.

And on Friday, when he appeared for his disciplinary hearing, Sitshetshe was told to return on November 22. He was also warned not to make any contact with his colleagues whom the NPA wants to call as witnesses in the disciplinary hearing.

In a notice of the hearing which City Press has seen, Sitshetshe is accused of having “practised witchcraft in front of co-workers at the offices” and of threatening a cleaner “with physical harm if she were to clean the muti”.

The practice of witchcraft, according to the disciplinary notice, also constituted “a criminal offence according to the Witchcraft Act 3 of 1957”.

Sitshetshe is also facing an alternative charge of bringing the name of the NPA into disrepute for practising witchcraft.

But those are not his only woes with the prosecuting authority. On July 12 Sitshetshe was accused of absconding from work and driving nearly 300km to Port Elizabeth where the new National Director of Public Prosecutions Batohi was.

Although he did not have a scheduled meeting with Batohi, Sitshetshe managed to get an audience with her and complained of a “witch-hunt” against him and several other prosecutors who had taken part in a protest action at the NPA headquarters in Silverton, Pretoria, in March.

The prosecutors handed over their memorandum of grievances, raising concerns of salary increases, promotions and inhumane working conditions.

“He [Sitshetshe] is also a member of an interim structure responsible for setting up a new labour union for prosecutors which is yet to be registered,” one prosecutor told City Press.

According to a letter seen by City Press, Sitshetshe was also accused of having misbehaved during a one-night stay at a City Lodge hotel while on a work trip.

“He was, however, not charged after several colleagues who were present made supporting statements that gave a different version of the events of that night,” the source said.

The unsigned document also alleges that Sitshetshe was served with a written warning for being absent from work.

“The nature of misconduct is that on July 12 this year you absented yourself from work for the whole working day … without permission and for a purpose which was outside your scope of work, saying that you are meeting the National Director of Public Prosecutions and you indeed went to Port Elizabeth and met the National Director of Public Prosecutions without any invitation from her or any of your supervisors and by so doing displaying a very disruptive, insolent and insubordinate behaviour towards management of the office.”

Batohi responded to Sitshetshe’s complaint of a “witch-hunt”. In a letter she wrote: “I have noted your complaints relating to victimisation against yourself as raised at our brief meeting on July 12 this year.

“I have considered the matter and see no evidence of any victimisation. The employer has a prerogative to instigate allegations of misconduct when reported,” Batohi said.

“Investigations are necessary fact-finding exercises conducted subsequent to a complaint of misconduct.

She added: “Should the conduct complained of warrant disciplinary action, such will be implemented with due regard to a staff member’s rights and the applicable rules.

“The purpose of such investigations is to determine the veracity of allegations. This is a process that needs to be followed.”

NPA spokesperson Bulelwa Makeke said: “This is an internal disciplinary matter currently under way and therefore we will not give details to the media at this stage. By the way, the official charge is intimidation.”


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shamila batohi
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December 15 2019