South African National Parks (SANParks) CEO Fundisile Mketeni has decided to take “special leave” after charges of assault and sexual assault were laid against him on Friday at the Skukuza Police Station, Kruger National Park.
According to Mketeni’s accuser, he tried to touch her inappropriately, attempted to kiss her, and assaulted her. Mketeni appeared in court on Monday, and was granted R2,000 bail. According to a SANParks statement, Mketeni’s co-accused include two male SANParks employees and one female non-SANParks employee.
“These are serious allegations and the DA fully agrees with his decision to step down while legal proceedings take place,” said Dave Bryant (DA Shadow Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries and Annerie Weber (DA Member of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee for Environment, Fisheries and Forestry) in a statement on Tuesday.
“We urge the SAPS (South African Police Service) to launch an independent and transparent investigation into these allegations. If Mketeni is found guilty he must face the full might of the law in order to ensure that justice is served,” said the DA.
The opposition party has also called on SANParks to appoint a “credible, efficient and effective interim CEO” while the investigation is carried out.
“The entity has numerous challenges that need to be addressed as a matter of urgency, including the recent Table Mountain fires and the rampant poaching of rhinos at Kruger National Park,” said Bryant and Weber.
SANParks said that Dr Luthando Dziba, the managing executive of conservation services has been appointed as acting CEO.