/ 8 March 2013

More sexual harassment allegations surface at Wits

More Sexual Harassment Allegations Surface At Wits

The University of Witwatersrand has been rocked by a Sunday Times report on sexual harassment allegations at the university, after its decision last week to put a drama lecturer on "special leave" following accusations of rape and sexual harassment.

Following the allegations, Wits has set up a campus-wide inquiry which will assess existing policies and procedures to prevent instances of sexual harassment.

The inquiry is set to conclude in August and will be led by the Centre of Applied Legal Studies head Professor Bonita Meyersfeld and Joe Mathibe, from an outside law firm.

A former student of the media studies lecturer alleged that she was made to feel uncomfortable in his office during a consultation, reported the university newspaper Wits Vuvuzela.

The lecturer apparently asked her to place one of her assignments in a box on his desk.

"He stood close to a box that didn't even have assignments in it. It just had like a random pile of books." When bending over to place her summary in the box, the former student claimed the lecturer casually touched her behind.

'His wife was away'
Five other former students have come forward with stories of inappropriate behaviour by the lecturer.

These include instances where the lecturer asked students to come to his house because "his wife was away", where he would send them emails and BBM contact requests as well as make comments about their appearance.

The media studies lecturer has denied all accusations, stating: "These allegations that are being made here are really unrealistic as far as my own personality and my own attitude with my students is concerned … I'm an academic, I know what constitutes sexual harassment and I wouldn't."

Wits incoming vice-chancellor Professor Adam Habib announced that the university intends to take a firm stance against sexual violence and intends to condemn lecturers who have been involved.

“The university definitely has to throw the full force of the law at anyone who has been found to be guilty of sexual harassment," he said.