Grootfontein CEO back in office

GROOTFONTEIN: The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Grootfontein who was suspended over alleged sexual harassment in 2013, is back in office.

Grootfontein CEO Charles Kariko told Nampa in an interview on Monday that he received a re-instatement letter from the Grootfontein Town Council on Friday ordering him to return to the office and resume his duties as from Monday.

“I can confirm that I am back in the office,” he said.

Kariko said he reported for work on Monday morning, and undertook an official trip to Otjiwarongo with the town’s mayor, Emma Taukuheke.

He was reinstated in his position with all benefits.

The decision to reinstate him was made by the Grootfontein town councillors in an extra-ordinary meeting that took place there on Friday.

Otjozondjupa regional governor Otto Ipinge told this news agency on Friday that he ordered the Grootfontein local authority councillors last Tuesday in a meeting to reinstate Kariko to his position of CEO with immediate effect.

Ipinge said the town council failed to substantiate its claims against Kariko, adding that it had no case against him, hence his decision to order them to reinstate the CEO for the sake of development.

Meanwhile, the chairperson of the Grootfontein Town Council’s management committee, Johan Spangenberg on that same Tuesday verbally resigned after the meeting with Ipinge.

Spangenberg on Friday confirmed his resignation, but refused to comment further on the matter.

He instead explained that he had verbally resigned on Tuesday afternoon, and his verbal resignation was followed with an official resignation letter he submitted to the council on Thursday.

Spangenberg did not provide any reasons for his resignation.

Kariko at the beginning of 2013 was accused of having made sexual advances and remarks towards a female council employee.

The woman joined the municipality of Grootfontein in January 2013 as Kariko’s personal assistant. She is no longer employed there.

She reported Kariko’s alleged unbecoming behaviour to the council in April 2013.

Kariko denied the allegations, but the council suspended him with pay to pave way for unhindered internal investigations.

This news agency reported in March this year that the Grootfontein town councillors convened a meeting last November to discuss the charges, but found that they had little evidence to support claims of sexual harassment.

They agreed on dropping the charges, but their decision was never supported by a council resolution for it to be implemented.

The Grootfontein Town Council had to shoulder the financial burden of paying Kariko’s full salary while he was suspended; paying allowances for the acting Grootfontein Municipality CEO Martin le Roux; and also the lawyers representing council in the matter since 2013.