Top executive embroiled in harassment drama

You may remember Sipho Pityana, the business mogul who was previously chairperson of mining giant AngloGold Ashanti, for his fierce activism through the Save SA campaign. He led the resistance campaign against state capture by former president Jacob Zuma and co. But in the past week, Pityana has made the news for all the wrong reasons. 

It has emerged that his resignation as chair of AngloGold Ashanti was related to an investigation that allegedly found him guilty of inappropriate behaviour towards a senior woman executive at the company. Among many allegations, Pityana is accused of inappropriate behaviour such as inviting the executive to meetings only attended by the two of them at cosy restaurants, inviting her to a meeting in his New York hotel room and holding her hand and declaring his love for her. 

Pityana resigned as chairperson in December 2020, a day before the independent investigation commissioned by the company found against him on the allegations of sexual harassment. He denies these. 

More recently he has decided to take the country’s banking authority to court for what he calls a weaponisation of these allegations, saying they scuppered his bid to become chair of Absa. It’s pretty complicated, but essentially he claims the bank’s former CEO Maria Ramos – now AngloGold Ashanti chair – told the SA Reserve Bank’s Prudential Authority about the investigation’s findings. The Authority regulates local banks, and Pityana claims this led to him being sidelined from the Absa gig. 

It’s worth noting that Absa conducted its own investigation into the sexual harassment claims and found the AngloGold Ashanti investigation “did not take into account all the relevant evidence” and that “its author failed to obtain corroborating evidence from independent sources”.  

You’ll be seeing a lot about this in business news and, yes…it’s pretty messy.

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 4 November 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.