TRANSPORT MEC Thandiswa Marawu was given until the end of business yesterday to suspend a senior traffic official facing sexual harassment charges.
The Port Elizabeth-based senior traffic officer, Charles Bramwell, faces charges including sexual harassment, abusing his female colleagues and racism dating back to October last year.
Despite this, Bramwell was transferred from his Cacadu deputy director traffic control post to a deputy director post in Bhisho.
A portfolio committee on transport did not take kindly to the “special treatment” and gave Marawu an ultimatum to suspend Bramwell by the end of business yesterday. It could not be established last night whether Bramwell had been served with a letter of suspension.
Bramwell, who was voted the national traffic officer of the year in 2008, refused to comment yesterday. He made headlines last October when numerous allegations, ranging from sexual harassment and abuse of female traffic officers to racism and misappropriation of department funds, were levelled against him.
Committee members were livid on Tuesday that Bramwell, who was part of the management team overseeing the controversial Cacadu traffic control centre in Port Elizabeth, was still in the department, despite a resolution from a sitting of parliament in October last year that he be suspended pending an investigation. Committee chairwoman Busisiwe Ndlangisa-Nodada said: “The issue emerged last year, and there is even a house resolution that he be suspended with full pay . . .
“The Labour Relations Act says when you investigate issues such as these, the person must be suspended so that he does not influence proceedings.
“But there was no willingness for him to be suspended,” an angry Ndlangisa-Nodada said.
What was even more infuriating, said DA committee member Veliswa Mvenya, was that Bramwell was now permanently at head office.
“It’s disgraceful that in the new South Africa, which says it protects women, a department can protect a person charged with sexual harassment. As if that’s not enough, they reward him by sending him to head office. It’s like they’re saying he should now harass women in the province, now that he is done in the region,” Mvenya said.
The department’s head, Linda Salie, who was under fire from committee members demanding answers, buckled under the pressure and asked to be excused.
A committee member had just reminded Salie of a previous resolution that he no longer led the department in the committee because he had misled it on previous occasions.
Salie complained that he had been enduring ill-treatment from portfolio members and “could no longer take it”.
He said he was a human being and had emotions and asked to be excused.
Nodada-Ndlangisa said most committee members had responded with anger, explaining that it was Salie’s job to account to the committee, and that he would get no special treatment.
If he was unfit for the job he should leave, she said. “We told him we are not going to beg him. We have many issues that we’re waiting for answers on from the department.”
Transport Department spokesman Ncedo Kumbaca said the department had appointed an independent person, lawyer Hintsa Siwisa, to investigate the claims against Bramwell.
“It was concluded Mr Bramwell would have a chance to respond to the allegations by [September 19], and only after his response was considered would a decision on a course of action be decided.”