Update: MUT Lecturer Suspended For Sexual Harassment

An engineering lecturer at the Mangosuthu University of Technology has been suspended following allegations of sexual harassment. MUT has issued a statement in response to the allegations against the lecturer.

 

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The story was initially published by City Press earlier this week after some students alleged that the lecturer had made sexual advances towards them in exchange for marks.

The story alleged that an engineering lecturer at the university has been found guilty of sexual harassment after an investigating task team, assigned by MUT, found that he made sexual advances to multiple female students in the exchange for marks.

City Press further reported that the lecturer who had previously been found guilty of the same offence in 2016, is still an employee at the university.

However, MUT has said in a statement that the story and headline in the City Press article is inaccurate and misleading as the disciplinary process is still ongoing.

The headline, “MUT lecturer guilty of sex for marks”, is inaccurate and misleading. While there was a Task Team assigned to this investigation, their recommendation was made bearing in mind that a formal disciplinary process would be undertaken by the university.

The university says that the Task team's mandate was to establish whether there was ground for the university to institute a disciplinary hearing against the accused. The disciplinary process is still underway and has not been concluded. 

Regarding the 2016 disciplinary process, the university has said that the disciplinary against the accused lecturer was halted because the witnesses were no longer available to testify against the lecture.

MUT, like all universities, operates within the confines of the law where a disciplinary process of this nature requires witnesses to give evidence to support their claims. It is unfortunate that universities are spaces of transit, where students leave as soon as they complete their studies. It is also equally unfortunate that when it comes to rape, sexual assault and harassment; many victims choose to remain silent in fear of being stigmatised.

Furthermore, the task team hired to investigate the engineering lecturer, released a report in November which found him guilty of soliciting nude photos and making sexual advances towards female students in exchange for good marks.

Five students submitted Whatsapp messages and affidavits to the task team as proof of the lecturer’s sexual advances.

The task team noted in its report that his engagement with the students was unprofessional and that he took advantage of having them in a class Whatsapp group.  

The chats also revealed that he would also request nude images of students and ask them to book accommodation where he would meet them.

“In the lecturer’s chats with the students, there is a disturbing pattern that sexual predators use when grooming girls. He frequently uses young people’s language and lacks professionalism. This is against  MUT’s values. He lacks integrity” stated the task team.

In addition to this, three students submitted affidavits that showed that the lecturer frequently sent them messages at all times of the day. These messages are reported to have been his personal remarks rather than academic support.

One of the affidavits also revealed that the lecture sent a text to one of the students which read “If you send me naked pictures I have a deal with you” and the deal was that he would give her better marks.

However, the task team found no evidence that the student’s marks were affected by the lecturer’s requests for sexual favours.

It recommended that the lecture be formally charged for unethical conduct, as he allegedly interfered with the student’s right to a safe learning environment on campus.

Additionally, the task team found that he had breached the university’s rules, including its code of conduct as well as its sexual harassment policies and procedures.

The University’s spokesperson, Bheki Hlophe stated that the lecture was placed on suspension after the complaints were laid against him. He was also formally charged after the investigation was concluded.

Additionally, the university said that it ran an aggressive sexual harassment campaign to raise awareness on sexual harassment and GBV, and encouraged staff to report such incidents. 

This article is an updated version of an article that was originally published on the Careers Portal Monday 20 September 2021.

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