EFF leaders accused of women abuse

Two female members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have spoken out about their pain and frustration with the physical abuse they suffered at the hands of their male counterparts and how the party has not supported them.

The two opened cases with the police and the accused have appeared in court. Both women describe the EFF as having failed to take their issues seriously, this after they raised complaints with provincial and national leadership. The women also say they have not received any trauma counselling or support.

EFF North West deputy chairperson Bunga Ntsangane appeared in court on Wednesday after the party’s junior staff member Maggie Klaas claimed Ntsangane assaulted and threatened to have her genitals “cut off” during an altercation in his office in November last year.

EFF Limpopo secretary Jossey Buthane’s matter is also before the courts after a party member from Sekhukhune region, Mogau Komane, alleged that he assaulted her at the regional meeting in December 2016.

Komane claimed Buthane tore open her dress, revealing her breast publicly, and left her body bruised.

Speaking to City Press, Komane said: “This incident makes me so emotional; I am drained. It has been going on for over two years and I no longer have faith in getting justice.”

“I am a normal member of the EFF. We were all invited to the meeting and I noticed him approaching another guy and he started attacking him.

“Everyone was watching and not intervening because he is known as this big guy who goes around beating people. I decided that I would no longer be part of this meeting, I couldn’t stand and watch.

“He then followed me and started attacking me for speaking up that I wouldn’t be part of this. He tore my top and exposed my breasts, and started hitting me. We were by a balcony and everyone could see, but no one intervened.”

Komane says the incident humiliated her.

“I feel as if the organisation is not doing anything about this. I feel alone, unsupported and helpless. If you can also help me with any women support structures, I can go to get counselling,” she added anxiously.

“I just wish that at the very least he could acknowledge what he did and apologise. Instead, he first denies that he even knows me, but he goes around saying he’s not afraid of collecting cases or going to court.

“I love the EFF, it is my home, but I am disappointed with the leadership because they have been so quiet about this. They claim to advocate for women, but it’s like the organisation is protecting men. I am still a member of the EFF and have no intentions to leave because it is bigger than persons, even though I couldn’t take my matter up with the provincial leadership because he is in charge.”

City Press reached out to Buthane, who said: “I am not aware of such an incident, but yes it is true I am attending a trial in court. I believe the court will take a sober decision.

“But I want to say that this is a political matter and I refuse to be used to garner emotions against me. Politically, she is the one who abuses men by taking advantage of Women’s Month.

“I don’t want to go into too much detail on the matter, but I want to say these claims are untrue. I don’t know this lady. I have never spoken to her. I don’t even know where she stays. I discourage women abuse. Everyone in South Africa is innocent until proven guilty. Let’s leave the matter to the court.”

Buthane will appear again on September 12 in the Schoonoord Magistrates’ Court in Sekhukhune.

In the North West, EFF provincial administrator Klaas says she laid a charge of assault against Ntsangane on November 9 last year.

“He pushed me toward the printer in the office and cornered me before hitting me after a dispute about me coming to work at 8am. He said officials from North West provincial legislature had launched a complaint that they could not find anyone in the EFF office.

“I informed Ntshangane that I am always in the office and those officials had come and found me in the office before.

“He threatened to fire me. I responded saying he must do as he pleases. He then came from behind my chair to my desk and pushed me. I hit the printer before going on the floor, he slapped me and hit my right eye and cornered me.

“In between the beating, he was calling me all sorts of names and threatened to cut off my genital area. Our provincial chairperson, Betty Diale, walked in on the altercation and pushed him away from me during his attempt to hit me with a fist.

“I then went to the police to open a case on the same day and I also went to the doctor, where they told me my right knee and left arm were injured.”

Klaas was at Mmabatho Magistrates’ Court this week where she says she was “cross-examined by the defence lawyer for hours”.

Klaas also claimed that she was slapped with a disciplinary charge that was later withdrawn. She also alleges that she was asked to withdraw the charge in exchange for being elevated from earning a stipend to a salary. She turned down the offer.

When asked about her working conditions, Klaas said she still shares space with Ntsangane: “I don’t have a choice, I have to come to work.”

Klaas says she feels aggrieved by the party: “No post-trauma counselling has been offered to me and I have continued to work in the same hostile environment with this man who threatened to cut my clitoris.

“No one in the province or national leadership has addressed his abuse of me even though the day after [the incident] I wrote a formal complaint to the provincial leadership. This year, on March 28, I wrote to national secretary-general Godrich Gardee and [EFF leader Julius Malema], but no one responded.”

The accused, Ntsangane, told City Press that all allegations against him were false.

Ntsangane agrees that he and Maggie did have an altercation on November 9: “I asked her to come at 8am so the officials could find her in the office, but she said she wouldn’t be told by me.

“She then grabbed my neck and her grip was so tense I had to drop her down. She fell and hit the printer when I dropped her.

“She had bruises, I think, to her shoulder and right knee, but I didn’t hit her. I have short breath issues and I had to drop her down.

“But I don’t hit women. In my 33 years with my wife I have never raised a hand to her.”

The trial will resume on October 2 and 3.

EFF national spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi told City Press that EFF national leadership is aware of the cases, but no internal disciplinary action has taken place because they await the outcome of the court proceedings.

“We shall take a decision on the basis of the court outcome, which could include expulsion or suspensions.”

Ndlozi also denied claims that the women were not given support, saying he was unaware of victims of gender violence being ignored by the leadership.