Katlego Mamabolo has now retracted and apologised for his claim that author Malaika Mahlatsi was writing a PhD proposal for Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina.
In a statement posted on his Facebook page on Monday, Mamabolo said his claim was “defamatory” and “not true.”
He added, “Furthermore, I understand that these allegations have been very damaging to the integrity of the Executive Mayor of Ekurhuleni, Cllr Mzwandile Masina, an outstanding leader of society and academic.”
‘Commitment to academic work’
“It is in that context that I offer my apology to him and put it on record that through his various academic achievements, he has demonstrated personal commitment to academic work,” Mamabolo added.
Mamabolo made the allegation last week after his romantic relationship with Mahlatsi, who works as a researcher and speechwriter in Masina’s office, soured.
In a statement, Masina’s office denied the allegation. “At no point has any individual authored or contributed to the contents of the research proposal, including anyone who was reviewing or proofreading the material. The Executive Mayor has and continues to adhere to the student code of conduct of the institution,” it said.
It also placed Mahlatsi on suspension over an alleged voice recording Mamabolo had posted on Facebook. In the recording, someone alleged to be Mahlatsi was heard saying Masina had “decreased the salaries of staff members without consultation.” Masina’s office also denied this allegation.
Mahlatsi similarly denied the PhD claim, saying she qualified as a Geographer and has “little knowledge” about local government, which is the topic of Masina’s PhD.
“My intervention is solely at the level of commentary around the strength of the argument as well as grammatical and syntax issues,” she added.
She also gave Mamabolo seven days to retract and apologise for the claim and demanded R750,000 from him for defamation, failure to which she would seek legal redress.
Reacting to Mamabolo’s apology, Mahlatsi wrote in a statement, “That my appointment in the Office of the Executive Mayor was brought into question is an attack on my hardwork and on the stripes that I have, through sweat and tears, earned. It was wrong.”
“Equally wrong was the aspersions cast on my intellectual and academic integrity, as well as that of my boss, who has never at any point asked me or anyone else to write a PhD for him,” Mahlatsi added.
Mahlatsi authored Memoirs of a Born Free in 2014. She has been a columnist for a number of publications over the years, including Sunday Independent and Sowetan.