court gavel 88.
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South Africa's representative to the Palestinian Authority, Sisa Ncwana, has been recalled, reportedly over rape charges filed by his former domestic worker.
Ncwana returned to South Africa on October 24 after the woman, a Filipina who worked at Ncwana's Ramallah residence, is alleged to have filed a rape charge in a Tel Aviv court.
South African Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said Ncwana had been recalled "until further notice."
While not confirming the rape accusation, Mamoepa did not deny it. "This act was necessitated by certain allegations having been made against him. Pursuant to this matter and upon his return to South Africa, the director-general has had a preliminary interview with him in which he denied the allegations levelled against him. Consequently we are looking at how we must proceed," said Mamoepa. He added that the interview was not part of a hearing.
"We have taken no formal disciplinary action against him. It was only a preliminary interview, and we have still to decide if any action should be taken," said Mamoepa. He said it might take a while for the department to decide how to deal with the allegations.
It is understood that the woman reported the alleged attack to police after being treated at a Jerusalem hospital. But police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld is unaware of the case. The Israeli Foreign Ministry also has no knowledge of it. Ncwana enjoys diplomatic immunity and in such circumstances, diplomats are usually recalled for an official investigation.
News of the incident came to light after an anonymous source contacted the South African media. It has since transpired that Ncwana and his housekeeper were having an affair while she worked for him. She is still in the employment of South Africa's department of foreign affairs although she stopped working for Ncwana just under half a year ago. Her work visa apparently expired and she had problems renewing it.
News of the allegation has shocked South African diplomatic staff in Ramallah, who are keeping mum on the matter. All inquiries have been referred to South Africa and the official word is that Ncwana is on leave. The South African embassy in Tel Aviv is also refusing to comment.
Ncwana was posted to the Palestinian territories after serving at the South African high commission in London. He has been a member of the ruling African National Congress since 1960 and served in various positions abroad after leaving South Africa in 1973 for fear of political prosecution. South Africa's former deputy president, Jacob Zuma, is currently facing rape charges in South Africa.