Land and agriculture minister Lulama Xingwana plans “suing all the parties” accusing her of an affair with former Land Bank boss Phil Mohlahlane. “I believe this is a smear campaign. It has no basis. I’m talking to my lawyers,” she told City Press.
Divorce papers filed by Mohlahlane’s estranged wife Joyce Makgalake in the Johannesburg High Court reportedly cite Xingwana as an additional defendant for having an affair with her husband and breaking up their marriage. Makgalake, a supermarket cleaner, is reportedly claiming R100 000 in damages from Xingwana and over R1 million from Mohlahlane. She told Sunday Times her husband had “various adulterous relationships” with colleagues before he left her for his mistress Mamie Mojapelo, cited as the third defendant in the divorce proceedings. The court papers also reportedly claim Xingwana was protecting Mohlahlane despite “various acts of fraud and misconduct committed at work”. These include using a cancelled ID, irregular awarding of tenders, falsifying his CV information and mismanagement.
Xingwana, through her spokesperson Godfrey Mdhluli, claims the allegations are “totally unfounded, malicious and without any basis. It is thus mischievous for these reports [to] repeat these unfounded allegations made by one Joyce, accusing the minister of giving her estranged husband privileges including overseas trips and positions of undue power.” Mdhluli said the minister has never offered Mohlahlane any protection, or been asked to do so. “The minister rejects the reports based on court papers that haven’t been served on her that suggest that she and Dr Mohlahlane conducted an affair since 2006.” Xingwana’s been quick to suspend or fire other senior managers under her jurisdiction suspected of irregularities or poor performance, including former Land CEO Alan Mukoki, former Affairs director general Glen Thomas and Limpopo land claims commissioner Mashile Mokono.
But earlier this year, she failed to take any action against Mohlahlane despite media reports of several sexual harassment complaints against him and after Farmer’s Weekly exposed him for illegally registering companies, buying properties and opening bank accounts on a cancelled identity number. His actions, which clearly violate the Identification Act of 1997 and carry a possible prison sentence, were branded “criminal” by the Department of Home Affairs. After extended sick leave, Mohlahlane has returned to his post as deputy director general at the Department of Agriculture. – Stephan Hofstätter