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'Inhumane' treatment by Unisa boss laid bare

Unisa building.
Unisa building.
Image: Dudu Zitha/Sunday Times

Employees at the University of South Africa (Unisa) have detailed their "inhumane" treatment at the hands of their boss who they claimed belittled and humiliated them in front of their colleagues.

The employees told the Human Rights Commission's inquiry into allegations of unfair discrimination, racism, sexism and harassment that they were victimised and intimidated by their boss, directorate of academic planning, accreditation and registration, Alice Mkuzangwe.

One of the employees, quality assurance officer for programme accreditation and registration Yolokazi Kanzi said she was so belittled and callously treated by Mkuzangwe to the point that she had to be admitted to a psychiatric institution for treatment.

She said Mkuzangwe would call them into a meeting after 3pm and tell them to submit reports before they left for home.

Kanzi said she stayed in Benoni, Ekurhuleni, and was scared to drive along the R21 at night as it was dark, but said Mkuzangwe would hear none of it. "I am one of the silent sufferers," she said.

"I was frequently screamed at for no reason and told [if] I was not up to my task, the door was open.

"This threatened my pregnancy," she said.

Kanzi also told the panel how they attended a workshop in November 2015 where Mkuzangwe told them to expect to work extra hours or hit the door.

Nondumiso Mcako, mana-ger for academic information management system, told the three-member panel that she joined the university in November 2015 and was immediately subjected to unfair and inhumane treatment by Mkuzangwe.

"I was unfairly treated, ridiculed, belittled and humiliated in front of my colleagues," said Mcako.

"She would ridicule me during performance reviews. I was told I am talking nonsense during meetings. Whatever I did was wrong.

"We have been victims of these circumstances," she said.

Mcako added that at one stage, soon after joining the university from Eastern Cape, she had diarrhoea and could not come to work for a day but Mkuzangwe demanded a sick note though she was not away for more than three days.

She added that Mkuzangwe would demand reasons for leave applications and would recall staff from their leave.

Mkuzangwe, who was sitting in the gallery during the testimony, said it would be premature to comment before her expected submission to the panel tomorrow.

"I will comment after I have made my submissions," Mkuzangwe said.

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