Letters to the editor: December 15 to 22 2016

Unfair article hurt my name

I wish to express my strong objection to the Mail & Guardian article Lecturer evens biased score, which mentions my name without me having been given an opportunity to respond to the claims. This is unfair and poor journalism. I wish to place on record that:

  • The M&G did not contact me about the claims and the case before publishing the article. As a result, it is one-sided and biased.
  • The dean of the education faculty was not a respondent in this case.
  • The details of the case are: WECT3058-16: Applicant (Lungi Sosibo) vs Respondent 1 (Cape Peninsula University of Technology) and Respondent 2 (Christa Thornhill).
  • The dean does not appoint academic staff, which means the dean did not appoint the assistant deans. Assistant deans are appointed by the senate executive from the recommendation of the selection committee, chaired by the deputy vice-chancellor: teaching and learning. This was also the case in the appointment of the assistant deans, in which associate professor Sosibo was an applicant and candidate.
  • The findings of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), therefore, pertain to respondents 1 and 2 in the case, not the dean, who was not a respondent.
  • It was, and apparently still is, Sosibo’s allegation that the dean had “absolute power” to influence both the selection committee and the senate executive against her appointment. This was Sosibo’s allegation, not the CCMA’s ruling.
  • The CCMA made an award against respondent 1, CPUT, for “non-adherence to the recruitment and selection policy in certain respects” and “unfairness concerning the selection process,” but no foundation could be found to support the allegation that respondent 2, Thornhill, did not meet the minimum requirements.
  • The award in its totality is available for your perusal, in the interests of balanced and fair reporting.

Professor Thobeka Vuyelwa Mda, dean: faculty of education, Cape Peninsula University of Technology

■ The M&G apologises to Professor Mda for failing to solicit her comment for our story. The information for the article came from the record of proceedings at the CCMA.

Do something useful, mayor Mashaba

Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba’s comments about African migrants as “criminals … holding our country to ransom” are incendiary and ill-conceived, given the tragedies that have happened in the past to do with migrants to South Africa ( ANC reports Mashaba for ‘xenophobia’).

But his views reflect what a sizable number of people really think. It is as though South Africa’s problems started when the first African migrants came in – as if poverty, litter and crime were nonexistent before the trickle of African migrants became a flood, as some describe it.

This narrative ignores the simple truth that poverty and crime exist in all societies, in spite of the presence or absence of migrants, though competition for limited resources, and thus survival, is intensified. It masks the reality that not all foreigners are criminals and that not all South Africans are law-abiding. It also ignores the fact that South Africa may have been complicit in enabling the push and pull factors leading to mass migration. I think voteless foreigners are a convenient punching bag for politicians.

The Democratic Alliance surely does not want to be seen as xenophobic. Mashaba could have better used his first 100 days to score some quick wins – visible and easy-to-implement changes. He seems to disagree, preferring to pursue complicated, time-consuming and resource-consuming strategies such as criminalising graffiti and wanting to sweep those without documents out of the city. Well, that might keep the DA’s core constituents happy, but it won’t expand the party’s support. – Mike Idagiza, Katlehong

Valiant in war, Maseko was a soldier

The reviewer of There Should Have Been Five by MJ Honikman, an outstanding book about Job Maseko, who fought in World War II, says black men in the South African army were drivers, hospital orderlies and mechanics, “rather than soldiers”. What an odd and ill-informed comment.

Maseko certainly was a driver in the South African army. Was he a soldier? He wore an army uniform; he was a lance corporal – that’s an army rank. He drove trucks laden with explosives; he was often under enemy fire; he was a prisoner of war; he was awarded the military medal for courage and enterprise in sinking a German supply ship in Tobruk harbour. Is he not to be called a soldier?

A white military quartermaster is mentioned in this book. He was probably armed only with a pen. Was he more of a soldier than Maseko because Maseko was black? What did skin colour have to do with it?

Author Honikman correctly uses the word “soldier” throughout the book when she refers to black men in the army. I wonder whether the M&G’s reviewer of There Should Have Been Five read the same book I read. Honikman cogently illustrates the fact that, had Maseko been white, he would have certainly been awarded the Victoria Cross, which four other South Africans received – hence the title. It is a fine book and an outstanding tribute to a heroic soldier. – Ronnie Kasrils

In praise of struggle icon Beata Lipman

We at Jewish Voices for a Just Peace (JVJP) are saddened by the passing of Beata Lipman – a stalwart and veteran of the struggle against apartheid, who participated wholeheartedly in every fight for humanity. She stood with JVJP in the Israel-Palestine conflict and against human rights abuses perpetrated by Israel’s government.

Beata, the matriarch of our organisation, who escaped the Holocaust, was fully committed to freedom for the Palestinian people and the struggle against human rights abuses.

She, together with her husband Alan, stand among the many Jews we are proud of as great heroes of the struggle against apartheid.

Beata was a journalist, a filmmaker, transcribed the Freedom Charter, and wrote books, including Embattled Ground: Women in Israel and the Left Bank, published on May 26 1988.

She was always at the JVJP liberation seders. Beata had a great determination to leave the world better than she found it.

Her tremendous courage and commitment inspire others to continue her fight for human rights.

We wish a long life and no more sorrow to her daughter and son, Jane and Peter. – Jewish Voices for a Just Peace

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