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Outcry over delays in varsity sex case

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IOL jan 29 TUT

Independent Newspapers

File photo: Masi Losi

Johannesburg - Almost a year after sex pest claims rocked Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), senior staffer Andrew Makhushe is yet to face the music.

Sources told The Sunday Independent that the three female students who laid charges against Makhushe have lost confidence in the disciplinary process.

The trio formally complained in May last year that Makhushe, head of student life and governance at the main campus in Pretoria west, had sexually harassed them.

A complainant this week said while Makhushe made several rude sexual advances on her, “the most shocking part” was the time he “closed the door and started (taking) off his pants and showed us his wonders” when she was in his office with her younger sister.

Another said: “He wanted to sleep with me and I refused because I saw him as a father. He would see me wearing something tight and make comments like ‘if I were to sleep with you I’d make you pregnant same time’.”

The last straw was when he allegedly demanded she have sex with him in his office as a favour before he would offer his work-related services.

She went to the student representative council (SRC) office, where she was advised to lay charges.

Makhushe declined to comment when contacted this week.

In June, the university confirmed to the media it had suspended him with immediate effect over the allegations.

Now TUT’s management is being accused of allowing the campus branch of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) to manipulate the process.

SRC sources charged that Nehawu was “taking advantage of untransformed TUT human resource disciplinary processes to flush the case, leaving the poor students with trauma”.

“We view this as political influence of disciplinary processes and undermining of social justice”, said an SRC source who asked not to be named for fear of victimisation.

Nehawu, of which Makhushe is apparently a member, allegedly swayed management to overturn its earlier decision that an external disciplinary expert would chair Makhushe’s hearing.

The first sitting last year had to be postponed, as Makhushe’s lawyer requested time to study the case. The second session was abandoned when Makhushe didn’t pitch, apparently claiming he was sick.

When the hearing was to start in November, “Nehawu disputed the appointment of an external chairperson saying the university has its own internal processes,” said a source.

Internal e-mails, which The Sunday Independent has seen, show how Edwin Phoka Manyaka, a lawyer based at TUT’s legal office and who was a prosecutor in the case, threw in the towel on pushing for an external chairperson.

“We were hoping that the external chairperson was going to lay to rest issues relating to unfairness and impartiality, given the opinions and or perceptions certain employees have formulated and or developed in relation to this case,” wrote Manyaka in his e-mail sent out last month.

“However if little or no value was attached to that agreement principle, on the use of an external chairperson, it is fine, we are prepared to proceed.

Now three internal officials, who are senior administrators, have been appointed to hear the matter.

Manyaka has since been removed from the case, The Sunday Independent has established.

Sources said this was due to Nehawu’s influence.

It was Gugu Xaba, Nehawu’s campus secretary, who demanded his removal.

Xaba could not be reached for comment. He didn’t answer his phone or respond to voice messages and SMSes.

Willa de Ruyter, TUT spokeswoman, said the institution’s “director for industrial relations, who deals with such issues, was not available” to comment.

bongani.nkosi@inl.co.za

Sunday Independent


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