UCT rejects claims by former lecturer Athol Williams
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Cape Town - Former UCT lecturer Athol Williams has alleged that the university has tried to silence him, a charge that UCT denied.
Williams claimed that the UCT ombudsman offered him “hush money” to stop raising concerns about the university’s dealings with companies implicated in allegations of state capture.
He was a senior lecturer, specialising in corporate responsibility and ethical leadership, at the UCT’s graduate school of business until last year.
In March this year, Williams gave testimony to the State Capture Commission regarding evidence related to the South African Revenue Services (Sars).
Williams said that he stated in emails to UCT leadership that their support of companies involved in state capture, and their punishment of him as a state capture whistleblower, made them a secondary enabler of state capture.
"I contacted the head of the business school, the vice chancellor and chairperson of council with these concerns – none of them engaged with the content of my concerns," he said.
He said he was then contacted by the UCT ombudsman Ihron Rensburg, who said he would investigate.
"Note, I did not contact him, he contacted me," said Williams.
"On March 12, I had an online meeting with the ombudsman. He addressed none of my concerns, he said he was still investigating and said the university wanted to offer me a year’s salary.
“I rejected the offer immediately. When I asked him why he was offering me money, he said it was a ‘symbolic payment’,” said Williams.
UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola said it respected and applauded Williams for his efforts to blow the whistle on fraud and corruption.
"We recognise that exposing fraud and corruption is a service to the nation. We also appreciate the profound toll such a process can take on the whistleblower," said Moholola.
He said, regrettably, Williams has again raised and repeated multiple, very serious allegations against UCT in public statements, and that was unfortunate and unjust.
Moholola said Williams consistently claimed UCT did not want to engage him and claimed that he was “receiving no help” and then “offered money by UCT”.