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Western Cape Health Department investigation concludes without alleged victim’s voice

The Health and Wellness Department says it has concluded its investigation into rape allegations made by a UCT postgraduate student, without the complainant’s participation. File picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency

The Health and Wellness Department says it has concluded its investigation into rape allegations made by a UCT postgraduate student, without the complainant’s participation. File picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency

Published Jun 20, 2022

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Cape Town - The Health and Wellness Department says it has concluded its investigation into rape allegations made by a University of Cape Town (UCT) postgraduate student against a professor and department employee without the complainant’s participation.

The department said it had concluded its “in-depth final report” into the alleged incident which occurred in 2019, through the appointment of an independent investigating officer.

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Department chief of operations, Dr Saadiq Kariem, said: “The complainant was approached multiple times to participate directly in the investigation, but she unfortunately declined a total of five times.”

The investigation found there was no material evidence to support the allegation, the department said.

“All her statements and complaints were used and considered as part of the investigation. During interviews with multiple witnesses, the allegations made by the complainant were found by the independent investigating office to be fraudulent and fabricated. No evidence was found to substantiate the alleged rape,” Kariem said.

UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola said any sanction would be the sole right and responsibility of the Western Cape government and the Health and Wellness Department.

Between August 2021 and February 2022, the student approached the university five times with complaints of racism, sexism and sexual misconduct.

“On every occasion the university immediately offered support and remediation. On each occasion this was rejected, and various departments were instructed by the complainant not to contact them further,” he said.

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Women’s Legal Centre director Seehaam Samaai said: “I don’t know what they used in terms of the design of the actual investigation, because it’s easy just to do an investigation and to be able to question and to read the statements that are before you, but it’s more difficult to design a process that’s inclusive, transparent and takes into account the needs of the victim.

“The report should not be used as a mechanism to further isolate or to be able to say it did not happen. That the investigation can’t do, that is for a court of law,” she said.

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