Sefako Makgatho University to defend legal challenge to appoint Prof Peter Mbati as vice-chancellor

FILE IMAGE: Students at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University in a meeting.
FILE IMAGE: Students at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University in a meeting.

The Higher Education Transformation Network (HETN) has filed legal papers in the North Gauteng High Court against the council of  of Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University. 

According to HETN this is to urgently interdict, review and set aside the administrative action by the council of the university (SMU) to appoint Professor Peter Mbati as vice-chancellor in terms of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA) 3 of 2000. 

HETN executive director Mothepane Seolonyane said legal action is justified given the arrogant response received from the SMU council and the refusal by SMU to furnish it with the relevant requested records.

"We reiterate our view that the SMU process is flawed and is in noncompliance with the National Development Plan Vision 2030 [which states that the higher education sector to ensure that black South Africans and women make up 50% of the teaching and research staff of universities].

"Higher education managers and university councils are not a law unto themselves and must comply with the laws of the country. We remain confident that our legal action will yield justice on the matter," Seolonyane said.

SMU spokesperson Dr Eric Pule said the university will strongly oppose such an action as it believes that the court application and its averments have no legal basis and will not withstand legal scrutiny.

"The university will prove that the processes to appoint Prof Mbati was complete. The process was procedurally [fair] and transparent. The process leading up to his appointment was in line with the provisions of the Higher Education Act, SMU Institutional Statute and applicable university policies and that Mbati is fit and proper to assume the role of the vice-chancellor of SMU on June 1," Pule said.