'There was no sex for marks'

THE suspension of a law lecturer at the University of Venda in Limpopo has generated controversy on its campus.

Some students have claimed that they were intimidated to implicate Maredi Mphahlele as having solicited money and, in some cases, sexual favours from students in exchange for good marks.

Mphahlele was suspended by the institution last week and is being investigated on allegations that he charged law students up to R3000 in order for them to obtain their degrees.

It had also been alleged that he solicited sex from female students in exchange for passing them.

Mphahlele denied having engaged in such practices in an interview with a Polokwane-based radio station on Tuesday night.

He said he believed there was a "third force" behind the claims by the students.

Sowetan is in possession of a memorandum, apparently written by law students at the institution, demanding that charges against Mphahlele be withdrawn because they believe he is innocent.

This reporter is also in possession of affidavits made by some of the students who claimed they were intimidated by the institution's head of risk, Ailwei Mushavhanamadi, into making false statements against Mphahlele.

The students have thrown their weight behind Mphahlele, saying he was the only lecturer who truly had the interests of students at heart.

They also promised to bring forward other students to corroborate their claims on rebuttal of the allegations against Mphahlele.

The letter reads in part: "If Mphahlele is relieved of his duties we will also relieve ourselves from the duty of learning until he comes back."

Robert Ratshihule, one of the students, says in his affidavit that he was intimidated by Mushavhanamadi to agree to a statement that he had paid Mphahlele in order to let him pass.

"Mushavhanamadi threatened to lock me up or expel me from the institution if I did not accede to his demand," Ratshihule states in the affidavit.

"The whole exercise has traumatised me because I did not pay Mphahlele a cent."

But Mushavhanamadi denies he intimidated any students to implicate Mphahlele.

"I was only obtaining statements from students who made the allegations against Mphahlele and the matter is currently being investigated."

The students, who have since written sworn statements, said they agreed to implicate Mphahlele because they had failed their exams.

A female student initially claimed she had been failed because she had refused his sexual advances.

She now denies this occurred.