Sexual harassment accuser claimed she protected ‘overboarded’ Pityana

Sexual harassment accuser claimed she protected ‘overboarded’ Pityana

Mudslinging: Sipho Pityana ‘overboarded’ at AngloGold Ashanti, leading to the woman who later accused him of sexual harassment to ‘go against the truth’ to protect his job. The Prudential Authority has now blocked Pityana’s nomination as Absa board chair. Photo: Leon Sadiki/Foto24/Gallo/Getty Sipho Pityana ’s accuser claimed she defended the then- AngloGold Ashanti board chair against shareholders who wanted him out for “overboarding” — the term used to describe directors who serve on too many boards.

These details are in the review of AngloGold’s investigation into a sexual harassment complaint made against Pityana prior to his resignation from the mining company.

The investigation, by Heidi Barnes SC, found that Pityana committed both verbal and physical sexual harassment against his accuser, whom the Mail & Guardian has not named.

Pityana was accused of telling the complainant he was in love with her and holding her hand in the car on the way to her hotel from dinner. When they reached the Rosebank Holiday Inn, where she was staying, Pityana allegedly asked if he could park his car and come up to her room. Pityana has denied the allegations.

He resigned as AngloGold’s board chair less than two months after Barnes was appointed to look into the complaint.

According to a statement by the complainant, on 21 May 2020 shareholder advisory firm Glass Lewis recommended against Pityana for “overboarding”.

“I worked through the night to get them to amend their report and overturn this recommendation,” Pityana’s accuser said.

Eight days later, global investment manager BlackRock flagged concerns about Pityana’s time commitment with the company, the accuser noted, and on 1 June 2020 investment manager Ruffer “flagged a similar concern about succession planning for the chairman and his independence given his long tenure”.

“I put in the work to engage with these shareholders to encourage them to either vote in favour of or abstain so that his role would not be affected. I was successful, and both BlackRock and Ruffer abstained from voting on this point,” Pityana’s accuser added.

“I know that this man does not deserve anything from me or this organisation. Having to defend him and craft a narrative to protect his post went against the truth.”

Pityana laid bare the circumstances of his resignation as AngloGold board chair in an affidavit to the high court in Pretoria, where he is taking on the South African Reserve Bank’s Prudential Authority for allegedly flouting the process by blocking his nomination as […]

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