South Africa

IN COURT

SANParks CEO forced to take special leave after sexual assault allegations

SANPARKS CEO Fundisile Mketeni Photo:Werner Hills/Sunday Times

Following complaints of sexual assault and common assault claims against him, the CEO of SANParks, Fundisile Mketeni, has been asked to take special leave pending a legal procedure.

SANParks CEO Fundisile Mketeni appeared in court on 11 May together with two other SANParks men and a woman, all facing similar charges. He has been temporarily replaced by Dr Luthando Dziba, who presently heads Conservation Services.

SANParks board chairperson Joanne Yawitch said that in line with SANParks’ commitment to ethical conduct and the seriousness of the allegations, Mketeni will have to step aside until the matter is resolved.

“The board views the allegations made in an extremely serious light,” said Yawitch, “and will allow the court proceedings to take their course and reach conclusions on the allegations.”

Her board would investigate whether the circumstances surrounding the allegations “led to any improper or illegal conduct which may affect the employment relationship”. 

Mketeni was formerly deputy director-general of biodiversity and conservation in the Department of Environmental Affairs. Before that he was chief operations officer at SANParks. He has 25 years’ experience in environmental management,

Dziba, who takes over from him in an acting capacity, is a highly qualified scientist with a master’s degree in agriculture and a PhD in rangeland science from Utah State University. He is also a research associate in the Department of Zoology at Nelson Mandela University and a specialist in plant-herbivore ecology. DM

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