Stellenbosch University is investigating two official complaints laid against one of its senior staff members.

Cape Town - “He would caress my hand or embrace me or say something inappropriate to me.” These are the words of a student claiming harassment by a senior staff member at the University of Stellenbosch.

Mishka Lewis said it began while she was serving as a Students' Representative Council member.

“It started around the beginning of August. He would touch me inappropriately or say something that made me feel extremely uncomfortable,” Lewis said. 

Lewis was part of the SRC’s Consciousness and Sexuality Unit until recently, when the university held new elections. She said on numerous occasions the staff member would make sexual remarks to her.

It had become so bad that she felt constantly "anxious and scared" wherever she walked around. 

“I felt like this was my fault, like I was to blame, and that I bought this on myself,” she said. 

Earlier this month she finally told her mother. 

"She was so shocked, she urged me to lodge a formal complaint." 

Lewis did so at the Equality Unit at the university, where they are currently looking into the matter. 

She is not the only student claiming to have been inappropriately harassed by the same staff member. 

Former SRC secretary-general Liana Masheso has made a similar complaint. 

“He has also done this to a few other women and it’s patronising,” she said. 

She recalls a recent incident where the senior staff official pulled her to give her a hug. 

“I sent him an e-mail regarding his microaggression towards me and told him I will not be oppressed by him,” she said.

University of Stellenbosch spokesperson Susan van der Merwe said: “The Equality Unit at Stellenbosch University has received two official complaints against a staff member, and is following the process set out in the SU Unfair Discrimination and Harassment Policy.”

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Cape Argus