Tsepo Wa Mamatu Photo: Chris Collingridge

Cape Town - A controversy over a play about sexual harassment and its writer has so divided theatre circles that it is to be discussed by prominent members of the fraternity at a public event on Monday.

Central to the debate is whether calls to withdraw By My Grave from the Cape Town Fringe festival are justified or amount to “persecution” of playwright Tsepo wa Mamatu.

Wa Mamatu withdrew his play this week after a group of artists complained about his inclusion. He was dismissed from the University of the Witwatersrand last year after he was found guilty - in an internal investigation - of sexual harassment.

Wa Mamatu was a drama lecturer at Wits. He has denied he was guilty of sexual harassment, but says he had relationships with students.

The play deals with a man accused of sexual harassment and Wa Mamatu plays the main character.

Wa Mamatu is to participate in the debate, with Ukhona Mlandu, manager of Artscape’s Resource Centre, writer and gender activist Tracey Saunders and Thami Aka Mbongo, artistic director of the Zabalaza Festival, joining him on the panel.

Mike Van Graan, chief executive of the African Arts Institute, will chair the discussion at the Opera Bar at Artscape from 5.30pm.

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Cape Times