Cape Town - The UCT council has resolved to accept the resignation of embattled council chairperson Babalwa Ngonyama, stating that it agreed with the independent panel that her presence “poses a serious risk to the university”.
Ngonyama announced last week that she had stepped down from her position with immediate effect after a scathing interim report, issued by the panel led by retired Supreme Court of Appeal President Lex Mpati, made serious findings against her.
The panel was established last year to investigate allegations of governance issues, including claims that former vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng and Ngonyama misled the senate regarding the departure of deputy vice-chancellor of learning and teaching, Associate Professor Lis Lange, who claimed in a letter to the Senate that she was forced out.
According to the report it was Ngonyama who allegedly lied and had apparently embarked on a strategy to terminate Lange’s contract at UCT prematurely.
The panel recommended that council “takes immediate steps to remove” Ngonyama, however she left before any action could be taken.
She claimed to have always been willing to appear before and co-operate fully with the panel’s work.
Ngonyama argued that it was “one thing to focus on improving governance at UCT; it is a completely different matter to use the process in an attempt to lay blame”.
She has approached the Western Cape High Court to decide, among other things, on the fairness of the process.
UCT council on Tuesday said it had carefully considered the interim report and critical findings of fact concerning Ngonyama.
“Council finds that the panel has accorded Ngonyama ample opportunity to make representations in response to all allegations that witnesses have made against her, which opportunity she has not taken. Council rejects accusations made by Ngonyama, by herself and through her lawyers, that the panel has been unfair to her or that the panel has no legal authority to conduct the investigation.
“Council finds that the panel has meticulously and fairly considered all relevant evidence, and that it has reached findings, in its interim report, which are legally and factually sound and reasonable,” it said.
According to the council, they resolved to accept Ngonyama’s resignation as chairperson and member of council with immediate effect.
Meanwhile, Aspen Pharmaceutical company also announced that Ngonyama had resigned as board director.
“The Aspen Holdings board of directors has accepted the resignation of Babalwa Ngonyama as a director of the board.
“Ngonyama has diligently served as an independent non-executive director of Aspen Holdings since April 1, 2016, and chaired the Audit & Risk Committee since January 1, 2018.
“Ngonyama’s resignation takes effect immediately.
“The board wishes to express its sincere appreciation to Ngonyama for her service to Aspen over the past seven years. The board is in the process of reviewing potential candidates for appointment to the board and will make further announcements regarding the appointment of an interim chair of the Audit & Risk Committee,” it said.