A public lover’s quarrel that saw writer, activist, TV presenter and speechwriter in local government Malaika Mahlatsi get placed on suspension after her former lover Katlego Mamabolo levelled a number of accusations against her, which has resulted in Mamabolo having to issue a retraction and public apology.
Perhaps the most damning accusation made by Mamabolo was the claim that Mahlatsi had been assisting her current employer Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina in compiling his PhD dissertation.
He also posted an audio clip that was allegedly sent to him by Mahlatsi in which she accused her boss of reducing his staff’s salaries without consultation.
Mahlatsi was later issued with a notice of intention to suspend her employment with the city for allegedly breaching their social media policy.
According to a statement issued by the mayor’s office, she had allegedly breached municipal policies requiring her to, among other things, always act in the best interest of the municipality and “in such a way that the credibility and integrity of the municipality are not compromised”.
“Personal use of social media” needed to be “conducted in a manner that indicates no link or association with the [City]”, the statement continued, but the city had the right to “take necessary steps should users make the use of social media in a manner that has a direct, indirect or potential impact on the CoE’s reputation or interests”.
The statement added that the mayor’s office had noted “with great concern” the circulation of “an alleged audio recording of Mahlatsi on social media, in which she claims that the executive mayor decreased the salaries of staff members in the municipality without consultation”.
They said the claims were untrue and “devoid of factuality”.
Claims that Mahlatsi was doing a PhD on behalf of the mayor were labelled “equally false.”
Mamabolo posted his retraction statement on Facebook, where he initially posted his accusations and his apology reads as follows:
“Permit me to seize this opportunity and extend my regret and apology to Ms Malaika Mahlatsi for the defamatory allegations which I levelled against her on the 10th of May 2020, the nature of these allegations implicate her in academic dishonesty, as they create the impression that she is doing the PhD of Cllr Mzwandile Masina, this is not true and I therefore retract all statements which speak to that.
Furthermore, I understand that these allegations have been very damaging to the integrity of the Executive Mayor of Ekurhuleni, Cllr Mzwandile Masina, an outstanding leader of society and academic, it is in that context that I offer my apology to him and put it on record that through his various academic achievements, he has demonstrated a personal commitment to academic work.
Ms Malaika Mahlatsi and myself entered into a mutually consented relationship. I conduct a lot of business on the phone, and had installed a call recording application since last year. I regret that this tool was used to betray the trust birthed from our relationship as lovers, it was on the basis of that relationship that she shared with me her frustrations, it was never with the intentions to put the City of Ekurhuleni into disrepute.
Regardless of the many contradictions and imperfections between myself and Ms Mahlatsi, she is the most authentic and honest person I know.”
Mahlatsi, who had deactivated her account at the height of the media storm following the dispute, shared the post to her reactivated Facebook page along with the following statement:
“Dear friends and comrades
You have, in the past week, been witnesses to something deeply unfortunate. Last week Sunday, a fight between myself and an ex-lover became a public spectacle that had devastating consequences for many people, not least of which was my boss, the Executive Mayor of the City of Ekurhuleni, Cllr Mzwandile Masina ( Mazwai Zwai ). Devastating mistruths were peddled about me and about Masina – mistruths that continue to have far-reaching consequences.
At the heart of these was the damaging lie that I was employed in the City of Ekurhuleni to write a PhD for the Executive Mayor. This horrific lie cast aspersions on my professional and intellectual credibility, and on the credibility of the City of Ekurhuleni. Prior to my employment in the City of Ekurhuleni, I was employed as a Researcher and Speechwriter in national government. It is not a question that I was employed as a Speechwriter in the Office of the Executive Mayor because I’m qualified and capable, and after having undergone a rigorous process. My intellectual work and contributions to the ideational space speak for themselves. That my appointment in the Office of the Executive Mayor was brought into question is an attack on my hard work and on the stripes that I have, through sweat and tears, earned. It was wrong. Equally wrong was the aspersions cast on my intellectual and academic integrity, as well as that of my boss, who has never at any point asked me or anyone else to write a PhD for him.
What happened last week was a travesty. It was wrong and it should never have happened. I want to extend my deepest apologies to two people in particular: Cllr Mzwandile Masina, whose reputation suffered enormously, and my boyfriend, who has had to endure unimaginable horrors as a result of this situation. They did not deserve this, and I am truly and deeply sorry that they were, nonetheless, thrown into the crucible.
I am thankful to my family, friends, comrades and the many organisations that stood by me, borrowing me their strength when I was at my weakest. When the going got tough and the road rough, I looked at the jewels I was carrying – you. I am immeasurably grateful.
I will not be commenting further on this issue and now leave its conclusion to the courts. My legal team, Motalane Inc, will take over from here.”
(Compiled by Kaunda Selisho)