An explosive investigation into one of the country’s 26 public universities has uncovered shocking evidence of sex for jobs and promotions culture targeting female staff, industrial-scale theft, looting, and corruption.
In their report, two independent assessors, former Unisa vice-chancellor Professor Barney Pityana and Professor Rocky Ralebipi-Simela revealed they were approached by some of the victims of the sex for jobs and promotions scandal at the troubled Vaal University of Technology (VUT), who bravely shared their experiences.
The investigation was conducted by Pityana and former National Library of South Africa chief executive Ralebipi-Simela after the two of them were appointed by then higher education and training minister Dr Naledi Pandor in May last year.
The academics state the culture of abuse of women at VUT was a matter of concern to them.
”This comes by way of seeking sexual favours for employment and for promotions from senior managers at the institution. In practice, it is in the abuse of women when breakaways are organized seemingly in order to make women available to senior managers and executives,” reads the report.
“There is a view (though it is hard to prove) that appointments and promotions at the university are achieved through the demand and provision of sexual favours.”
Those who object to the sex for jobs and promotions culture are ostracised and marginalized, according to the report.” This is unfair labour practice but the shame and ridicule that attaches to this is of such a nature that women are bound to be very reluctant to lay complaints,” Pityana and Ralebipi-Simela found.
They said they decided against naming the staff members who complained and the alleged perpetrators but instead informed former University of Johannesburg vice-chancellor Professor Ihron Rensburg, who has been VUT’s administrator since August last year.
Controversial former VUT council chairperson and ex-eMfuleni mayor Simon Mofokeng yesterday defended his record at the institution, saying he was never consulted during the independent assessors’ investigation.
Mofokeng told Independent Media that Pityana and Ralebipi-Simela’s probe was an ill-informed, misinterpretation of facts and that they did not interview him.
He said when he came into the institution, at which he chaired the council until September 2017, he ensured that there was a separation of powers between the executive and non-executive decision-making bodies. According to Mofokeng, he never sat in sub-committees including tender committees but only chaired the council. “What I am telling you is factual, not wishy-washy,” he insisted.
Evidence presented to Pityana and Ralebipi-Simela stated that Mofokeng, a former ANC leader in the Vaal, was “someone who was the cause of confusion” at VUT, involved in tenders and approached service providers for favours.
Mofokeng’s replacement, advocate Tebogo Hlapolosa, was accused of shielding vice-chancellor Professor Gordon Zide despite evidence of his failure to perform.
Hlapolosa, whose council was dissolved after Rensburg was appointed VUT administrator last year, did not respond to messages yesterday and Zide couldn’t be reached for comment.
Zide and his predecessor Professor Irene Moutlana were informed by Pityana and Ralebipi-Simela about the allegations of sexual abuse. Zide said he was unaware of such a problem at VUT while Moutlana said she was well aware of the practice.