Thu Oct 20 23:27:13 SAST 2016

Sex harassment issues sensitive - activist

By unknown | Jan 19, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Mary Papayya

Mary Papayya

Gender activist Kubi Rama said the issue of sexual harassment must be handled in a sensitive manner by all stakeholders, including the media.

Rama was commenting yesterday after the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) this week cleared its two most senior officials of sexual harassment.

Rama, the chief executive of Gender and Media Southern Africa (Gemsa), said though she could not comment on the merits of the findings in this case, the issue of sexual harassment was serious.

"It is about abuse and if not properly handled it will result in further abuse. Irrespective of the outcome in the UKZN investigation, it is important that these matters are raised," she said.

Pumla Msweli-Mbanga, a former senior UKZN academic, had accused vice-chancellor Malegapuru Makgoba and council chairman Vincent Maphai of harassment, gender discrimination and victimisation, and of undermining her.

Both men have had their names cleared by the Magid Tribunal and will resume their duties from next week. Msweli-Mbanga has since resigned from her post.

Msweli-Mbanga has been severely criticised for not having credibility, and for changing her evidence when it suited her.

The tribunal found her evidence to have "a number of fundamental defects".

She has also been accused, together with three other academics, of behaving improperly in awarding the university's financial officer, Kanthan Pillay, a master's degree.

Msweli-Mbanga, a former dean of management studies at the university, said she is not commenting on the outcome at this stage.

"I have followed protocol and endured slander because I waited for the process to be completed.

"I have been advised by my lawyer not to comment. I will be releasing a statement soon."

This is not the first time that Msweli-Mbanga has come under fire from the university.

Prior to the Magid Tribunal sitting, she was accused of having had an affair with Pillay.

A university probe conducted by anti-apartheid veterans Fatima Meer and former education minister Sibusiso Bhengu found the relationship between Msweli-Mbanga and Pillay to be "very corrupt" and said it threatened the "integrity and academic standing of the university".

They recommend that the two be dismissed.

Before the probe by Meer and Bhengu, the university had also conducted its own inquiry, headed by Professor Ahmed Bawa, which found that the awarding of the degree to Pillay was flawed.

Reports in local newspapers indicate that Msweli-Mbanga had chosen to resign before the Bawa report was released to take up a new appointment with the University of Johannesburg.


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