UCT vice-chancellor Phakeng placed on special leave

UCT vice-chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng. Picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives

UCT vice-chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng. Picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published Mar 1, 2023


Durban – Just days before University of Cape Town vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng could leave the institution, the professor was placed on special leave.

This comes after a confidential letter was leaked to the university’s leadership on Monday, News24 reported.

The letter allegedly confirmed Phakeng’s departure from the university on Friday.

It was also previously reported that Phakeng was offered around R12 million to leave UCT but she denied the New24 report.

In the exit letter, she mentions leaving UCT behind with strong leadership, despite the deterioration of the relationships between Phakeng and the university’s council.

She said five years ago, when she took the office of vice-chancellor in 2018, the university was torn apart by protests.

She also mentioned going through the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the fire of April 2021.

However, the last 10 months were untenable, she said.

Phakeng said she was endorsed to run for a second term as vice-chancellor but become the centre of controversy at the university over her alleged bullying and abuse of non-disclosure agreements.

This prompted an independent investigation by retired Judge Lex Mpati.

In the letter, she said that since getting elected by the senate 10 months ago, her term had been characterised by significant failures in governance and escalating controversies that were putting the university at risk.

She maintained, in the letter, that the university council refused to acknowledge publicly that no disciplinary charges were laid against her.

She called headlines about her misleading and inaccurate.

Phakeng said she was at first reluctant to leave the university but then agreed to take early retirement.