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UCT VC scoffs at student’s rape allegations involving professor

UCT’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng interviewed at Bremner Building. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency/ANA

UCT’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng interviewed at Bremner Building. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency/ANA

Published May 18, 2022

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Johannesburg - An anonymous social media account, supposedly run by a sexual misconduct/rape victim, has aired how the University of Cape Town has failed to suspend a professor accused of violating a student.

It is alleged, by the anonymous social media account, that the victim was allegedly raped on UCT’s premises and that the university has failed to suspend the lecturer concerned.

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But the response of UCT Vice Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, has left many alarmed after she tweeted that the victim could have an agenda after she refused assistance from the university.

The apparent victim, using the anonymous social media account, alleges that they have been instructed by the university to keep the matter “internal” and not report it. They also state they are under witness protection.

In a media statement, UCT confirms that the matter has been reported to the police and is subject to multiple investigations, one criminal with the police and through the Western Cape Health Department, to which the alleged perpetrator is an employee of both the government and the university through a bilateral agreement.

The @RAPEDUCT1 account has been trying to get the matter exposed and tweeted last week: “Raped and tortured on premesis. UCT aware, VC wants to ensure Im silenced. Another rape, up for grabs to be silenced and threatened!!” (Sic)

Phakeng was tagged on one of the tweets by the anonymous account and she appeared to scoff at the abuse allegations by the student.

Phakeng tweeted: “This student has refused help from the university. She must say what her real agenda is”.

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In another tweet Phakeng indicates that the student has been refusing help for over three years.

“Please help her because she has declined all help from us. It’s been three years. Perhaps she will accept help from you. With us she prefers to pop up every now and then to make this allegation against me,” she said.

Phakeng has been widely criticised for her response to the allegations.

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Meanwhile, in its media statement, UCT did not confirm whether the perpetrator had been suspended or not.

“Athough no specific details have been provided, the university reasonably understands from some of the information shared through the tweets that this is in relation to an ongoing matter that is being jointly addressed by specific departments in government, in collaboration with UCT.

“The independent investigation must be allowed to conclude,” UCT said.

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The university said it had not paid the legal fees of anyone involved in the alleged rape, and that it has offered the victim support through resources at the university and externally. It also acknowledged that the victim was at liberty not to utilise it’s services or those recommended by the university, externally.

“The university is aware that the allegation of sexual misconduct is being investigated by the SAPS. The Western Cape Government Health is also conducting investigations around this matter...

“UCT is not at liberty to discuss this further in the public domain but can state that the matter is being dealt with and reviewed by the relevant and appropriate independent investigation panels,” said UCT.

Meanwhile, many were disappointed by Phakeng’s response to the allegations.

At the time of publishing, there were over 400 responses to Phakeng’s tweet, most of them expressing disgust at her response.

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