ANC fails to act against councillor accused of rape

Sipho Maselane is accused, along with another man, of raping and robbing two women in 2014 and another two in 2015.


CASE 1: ANC Ward Councillor for Winterveld – Sipho Emmanuel Maselane

Sipho Maselane is accused, along with another man, of raping and robbing two women in 2014 and another two in 2015.  Two of his victims were adult women in their thirties while the other two were aged fourteen at the time of the alleged rapes. Although Maselane was arrested in 2015 and granted bail of R2 000, his accomplice has not been arrested. The case is being heard in the Ga-Rankuwa magistrates court, with the next trial date set for Thursday 30 November 2017.

This case raises four issues:

  • The ANC’s institutional support for Maselane in spite of the serious criminal charges
  • The adequacy of the criteria used to determine someone’s fitness for political office
  • The confusion between criminal trials and disciplinary processes and the failure to take internal action
  • Inconsistent application of ANC policy

Despite having been charged with four counts of rape, one count of assault and four counts of armed robbery, Maselane was still nominated as a councillor in the 2016 local government elections – and in the face of community opposition. He is currently the councillor for Ward 9. Media reports indicate that the ANC is not planning to act on the matter until after the criminal trial – if they act at all. Tshwane ANC spokesperson Teboho Joala is reported in an IOL article from March this year as saying that “the ANC had confidence in Maselane and would only act if necessary after the final judgement.”


Lisa Vetten argues that: ‘It is hard to understand how Maselane could even have been nominated to stand for election as a councillor. It’s concerning that there is no bar on someone with serious criminal charges against them standing for election as an ANC candidate. In addition, by not immediately suspending Maselane, or making his behaviour the subject of an internal investigation, the Tshwane ANC has created the impression that it does not consider the allegations of rape against Maselane to be serious, nor to bring the organization into disrepute..’


Relevant ANC Policy

The ANC Constitution contains a long list of possible Acts of Misconduct in Rule 25. It includes in this list, behaving in a manner which brings, or could bring the ANC into disrepute; and engaging in sexual or physical abuse of women or children, or the abuse of office to obtain sexual or any other undue advantage from members or others. The Constitution allows for the suspension of members when taking into regard the ‘nature and seriousness of the alleged violation or act of misconduct and when considering the impact of the alleged violation or misconduct on the repute of the organisation.’


Criminal trials and disciplinary procedures

“Given the serious nature of the charges, it is not justifiable for the ANC to wait for the outcome of the criminal trial before taking internal action,” says Sanja Bornman, of Lawyers for Human Rights. “To say that they are exercising ‘caution’ is inappropriate and misleading. There is no requirement in law to wait for criminal process outcomes before acting internally. The processes can and should run concurrently, if you are really serious about protecting others and ridding your party of sexual violence and its perpetrators.”


Inconsistent application of ANC policy

The Women and Democaracy Initiative’s Sam Waterhouse contrasts the Maselane case with that of Marius Fransman. Even though the police had not (and still have not) finalised their investigation into the charges of sexual assault laid by Louisa Wynand in early 2016, the ANC’s National Disciplinary Committee found Fransman guilty of misconduct in November 2016 and suspended his membership of the organisation for five years. ‘By picking and choosing which cases it will take disciplinary action on, the ANC suggests that it is more motivated by internal political considerations rather than by a commitment to addressing sexual violence. The charges against Maselane are extremely serious, yet unlike Fransman he continues unchecked as an ANC deployee’ she stated.


The ANC must act

  • The #NotOurLeaders campaign is calling on the ANC to act decisively on this matter and immediately suspend Maselane while internal disciplinary proceedings are underway. The national office should also investigate the Tshwane ANC’s handling of this matter.
  • The ANC must provide information on the standards and processes in place that guide the selection of ANC electoral candidates. They must explain why Maselane was nominated for election while facing serious criminal charges.


For comment contact:

Lisa Vetten, gender violence specialist, 082 822 6725

Sam Waterhouse, Women and Democracy Initiative, Dullah Omar Institute, 084 522 9646

Sanja Bornman, Lawyers for Human Rights, 083 522 2933



Criminal trials and disciplinary actions are separate processes, with different purposes and levels of proof needed. This is why withdrawal of charges, or an acquittal in a criminal court does not always mean an incident did not happen. It means that the state could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it happened. The purpose of an internal disciplinary process, in most cases, is to maintain behavioural standards and create a safe working environment – which employers are required by law to do. The onus of proof is lower in internal disciplinary processes than it is in criminal trials, in these processes the case must be proved on a balance of probabilities – so they look at what is more probable. Internal disciplinary processes can and should run at the same time that a criminal trial is running. They also can and should be run, when the allegations constitute misconduct, even when there is no criminal case.




About the #NotOurLeaders campaign

During this year’s 16 Days of Activism, the Women and Democracy Initiative (WDI) of the Dullah Omar Institute at the University of the Western Cape, Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), and gender violence specialist, Lisa Vetten, turn the spotlight on political representatives accused of sexual violence and the practices that protect and enable their sexual misconduct and abuse. By contrasting the range of incidents reported with parties’ inconsistent – even non-existent – responses, the campaign aims to demonstrate the chasm between political-speak and political actions on sexual violence.

The campaign emphasises the need for strong political leadership by all political parties and representatives in tackling the pervasive problem of sexual violence in South Africa.


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