HANDOVER: Alison Lewis, dean of UCT’s engineering faculty, received the memorandum of demands from Daso members during a protest against a decision to place lecturer, Arthur Mabentsela, on leave after alleged racist and sexist remarks on Facebook. They were joined by DA MP Phumzile van Damme. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - UCT has decided not to suspend the lecturer who posted alleged racist and sexist remarks on social media but place him on compulsory leave on medical grounds.

Arthur Mabentsela, who lectures in the department of chemical engineering, allegedly attacked a post by a woman on Facebook in which she used the “#MenAreTrash”. He allegedly said the hashtag was used by women unable to attain a “quality man”.

Mabentsela posted: “Close your legs and open your ears (and) listen when a real man talks. But just check all the hoes (sic) gonna jump and defend their trash ways.”

He appeared to defend men who committed sexual abuse, saying: “Some of those men are suffering from depression. When I was depressed I had thoughts of raping my own two-year-old. I wanted to kill her. I saw nothing in her. There was no love.”

UCT vice-chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng said Mabentsela was removed from lecturing prior to the airing of the messages, and said it was decided at a pre-suspension hearing that he should take leave while the matter was probed.

“The lecturer has the right to a fair process, and we will ensure that relevant labour legislation is followed meticulously.

“We took the decision to proceed with the preliminary investigation into the entire matter with urgency,” said Phakeng.

“The necessary interventions will be made available to support him. I want to assure staff, students and parents that we are urgently acting on this matter because we recognise its importance,” she said.

The DA Students Organisation (Daso), however, expressed disappointment at the university’s decision, and students protested outside the engineering department before handing over a memorandum of demands to the dean of the engineering faculty.

“When we hide sexism under mental health issues we’re at a very dangerous place, not only within our democracy but within our transformative agenda in the institution. One does not wake up mentally ill and is suddenly also sexist. You were sexist because of your own conduct, outside of your mental health, and even if we do deal with his mental health and give him the necessary support, it will not change his behaviour. We think the university needs to do more needs to be held responsible,” said Daso caucus leader, Karabo Khakhau.


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