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University’s vice-chancellor is referred to as a ‘dog’

Fort Hare council members suspended after ‘violent threats’

Senior officials and stakeholders referred to as 'dogs' in intimidating messages

University of Fort Hare
University of Fort Hare
Image: MICHAEL PINYANA

The University of Fort Hare has suspended three of its council members after allegations surfaced of them being behind “serious violent threats” directed at senior university officials and stakeholders who are referred to as “dogs” in a series of intimidating text messages.

It is alleged the three are members of a campaign distributed messages which appeared to be threatening senior university staff and investigators while discrediting the work being done to fight corruption in the institution.

The three individuals, whose names are known to the Dispatch, were suspended after a council meeting held in East London on Thursday.

In messages seen by Sowetan’s sister publication the Dispatch, the university’s vice-chancellor, Prof Sakhela Buhlungu, is referred to as a “dog” who is an “instigator of the cases” that sought to uncover wrongdoing at the university.

Some messages appeared to be directed at law enforcement, including the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) which is investigating wrongdoing.

The author texted: “Comrades we have a problem of policemen watching us like a hawk.”

The names of 12 of the university’s senior staff are listed and referred to as “dogs that are a problem inside” the institution.

At the top of the list of officials is the name of deputy vice-chancellor Prof Renuka Vithal.

One message directly threatens Buhlungu: “Comrades soon everyone will smile again let’s not lose hope, it’s only a matter of time, we are nearing the end.

“What I can say is let’s remain vigilant and be the eyes and ears everywhere.

“We are about to kill the Buhlungu.

“And we already have people to do this job but let’s not speak on the phones.” 

This message also threatens Buhlungu's family.

The authors of the text messages are unknown but authorities are taking them seriously.

On Monday, the university said in a statement the council’s decision to suspend the trio “was made after a security advisory from law enforcement agencies related to the emergence of alarming, elevated and serious violent threats directed at senior officials of the university and external people”.

It said further: “The threatening correspondence referred to the alleged involvement of the council members.

“The suspensions are a precautionary measure and will be reviewed based on the outcome of investigations into the matter by relevant law enforcement agencies and a determination by the university.”

The university said it had opened a criminal case against the three council members at East London’s Fleet Street police station.

Police had not commented on the case by the time of publication.

SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said: “We are investigating according to proclamations by the president.

“Our task is on investigating allegations of maladministration in the awarding of honours degrees and mismanagement of funds through tenders.

“The proclamation says if anything is related to [the scope of investigation], we can investigate.”

One of the suspended council members said he had received a suspension letter on Monday.

“Last week Thursday, we had a council meeting in East London in which an unknown allegation was tabled in the meeting mentioning me [and two other members].

“I made it clear that such allegations were meant to divert attention from the fact I have submitted a concern to the department of [higher] education and training about a surveillance cyber security investigation in which the university has refused to disclose its content [sic].

“I made it clear that if the matter is not resolved I will sue the vice-chancellor in his personal capacity.”

Attempts to get comment from the other two members were unsuccessful on Monday.

DispatchLIVE


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