Ex-TUT deputy vice-chancellor Lulama Makhubela loses battle to be reinstated
Share this article:
Pretoria - Six years after she was ousted as the deputy vice-chancellor of the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), Lulama Makhubela was still fighting to either be reinstated or paid more than R4.7 million.
Makhubela was shown the door for allegedly claiming to be a professor. Her application against the decision was postponed indefinitely by the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, in 2018.
She was given an opportunity to file a further affidavit in response to the case put forward by the university and the panel which had dismissed her.
It has now emerged that she had filed her response late and did not adhere to the rules of court regarding the timeline for filing her answering affidavit.
Makhubela told Judge D Makhoba that as a layperson she did not realise that there was a deadline for filing her court papers and she had relied on her lawyer to do so. She also said that she had experienced financial difficulties in paying her lawyer.
Judge Makhoba, however, was not moved. He said: “The applicant blames her erstwhile attorney for her mishap and financial constraint.
“However, she is not illiterate … the explanation furnished by the applicant, in my view, has not been fully and sufficiently motivated.”
The judge refused to grant her condonation for the late filing of her replying affidavit. He also turned down her main application to be reinstated as deputy vice-chancellor for postgraduate studies, research and innovation at the TUT. In the alternative, she said, she wanted contractual damages amounting to more than R4.7m.
But Judge Makhoba ruled that her dismissal was fair, and noted that she was fully represented during her disciplinary hearing by a lawyer. In dismissing her application, he also slapped Makhubela with legal costs.
Makhubela was called before an internal disciplinary committee in 2013 following claims that she incorrectly claimed to be a professor in her CV. She was also accused of failing to disclose that she was asked to leave her employment by her former employer, the Development Bank of SA (DBSA).
Makhubela was found guilty of the charges against her and dismissed about three years before her five-year contract ended.
Makhubela insisted that she was a professor and said she was awarded this title by the University of the Western Cape and supplied documentation in this regard, thus indicating she had not lied.
About leaving the DBSA, she said she was never asked by the university to disclose the fact that she was dismissed. But, she added, the dispute was amicably resolved through a settlement agreement in terms of which she was paid a substantial amount.
She asked the court to declare that her dismissal and internal disciplinary hearing constituted a breach of her contract.
Makhubela said her contract with the university stipulated that if there was a dispute leading to her dismissal, the matter had to be decided by arbitrators at the CCMA and via an internal disciplinary hearing.
According to her, she had been head-hunted by the university in 2012, but had initially hesitated in forwarding her CV. One reason for this was that her business had just taken off after her “painful” departure as head of intellectual capital at the DBSA.
However, she decided in June 2013 to take the job and entered into a five-year working relationship with the university.