Dear students and colleagues
I write to you as a follow-up on my last VC Desk on 15 August 2018 relating to the matter of the lecturer who posted disturbing Facebook messages.
As the executive of the University of Cape Town (UCT), we have noted the interest from members of the UCT community but also the wider public in the matter. Reactions ranged from comments expressing the view that the staff member should be fired immediately, to others expressing concern for his condition and the hope that he would receive appropriate support in his time of need.
I am writing to inform you that we are still monitoring the situation very closely and will continue to deal with the entire issue with collective wisdom, compassion and by ensuring due process is followed.
As I wrote before, we made a decision not to suspend the lecturer, but to place him on a compulsory leave of absence on medical grounds. We further determined that the necessary interventions will be made available to support him.
I can now report that the lecturer is receiving the necessary professional medical attention. As a university community we are seeking not just to uphold the letter of the law and UCT’s code of conduct, but also to respond to a humanity we all share. We are keeping in contact with the staff member and his family.
We also previously stated that we took the decision to proceed with a preliminary investigation into the matter. Colleagues need to note that the Preliminary Investigation Committee is not set up as a punitive measure, but merely as a preliminary step where the committee looks into the incident (and all relevant aspects) to ascertain whether there is a case to face and what charges, if any, should be formulated.
Clearly, it is important for any employee involved in such a step, and for the committee itself, that the person is fully fit to participate. Hence I have put this process on hold until I am assured that the lecturer has received the full benefit of good medical care and is able to participate in his full capacity.
I want to assure you that we are acting urgently and decisively but with the compassion we believe the situation demands. The complex nature of this matter requires our patience. We trust that the matter will be resolved in good time and in the best interests of all.
Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng
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