Sexual harassment scandal rocks LSU

Sexual harassment scandal has rocked Lupane State University (LSU) amid revelations a female staff member is accusing the Vice Chancellor Pardon Kuipa of sexually harassing and victimising her for turning down his advances.

Personal Assistant to the Bursar, (name withheld), recently lodged her complaint over the harassment to the university through the Ncube- Tshabalala Attorneys’ lawyer, Nikiwe Ncube, citing the VC as her assailant.

The complaint document states that Kuipa allegedly victimised her after she refused to bear a child for him.

It is noted that she was transferred to be secretary for the centre of continuing education personal holder, a move she protested through her lawyer.

Documents state that following her protest she was reinstated to her previous position.

The complainant confirmed the sexual harassment case but was evasive to give more details referring the reporter to her lawyers.

“The harassment happened but I am not able to talk much about it, just talk to the lawyers to find out from them,” she said.

Her lawyer, Nikiwe Ncube, confirmed handling the matter and said it was pending.

 “I have met with my client. All I am authorized to say is: the issue is pending and l have been tasked to handle it,” said the lawyer.

In a letter to the lawyers, the complainant revealed that it all started in 2016, when the VC was attending meetings in the Boardroom. She said he would pass by her office and ask her if he was well dressed for the meeting.

She wrote that this continued until there was a Finance and Executive committees of Council meeting. 

She said the VC’s benefits were in the agenda and he was excused for the issue to be discussed in his absence.

“He visited my office and asked about my family.  I told him I had one child and he said I cannot stay with one child and he was there to give me a child but I refused. This did not go well with him and later the Registrar told me that I would be moved to the Registrar’s [Department] as a directive from the VC,” she wrote.

“I told my boss (bursar) that the VC was fixing me for refusing to give him a baby.  My boss told the VC that he would not remove me from his office without reasons. Then the transfer issue was ignored.”

The complainant wrote that in 2017 she went to the VC’s office with documents that needed his signature.

“He said he wanted to promote me to be a Registrar because I was a hard worker. I asked how, since Registrars are appointed by the Council and my qualification was far from that,” she wrote.

“He said I refused to give him a baby and I was refusing his offer of promotion and when I said yes he became so furious. He told the registrar to transfer me to the Library’s office but the Librarian refused to take me as her PA. He (VC) told the Registrar to rotate all secretaries including the PAs but his PA was not to be transferred and the PVC refused saying if VC’s PA is not transferred she would not allow her PA to be transferred.”

The victim noted in her letter that from March 31, 2020 her boss’ contract was not renewed and since then she was transferred to a lower position.

The complainant’s lawyer wrote to the Registrar questioning her demotion and no response was made but Ncube was later reinstated to her previous position.

In a letter to the Registrar, Jairos Makunde, the lawyer said her client raised several complaints of sexual harassment by the VC which continued even after she reported to him.

The lawyer noted that the VC has from August 27 2017 been threatening her client with a transfer or demotion.

“On May 28, 2020 without consultation, the complainant was transferred from Bursar’s department to the centre for continuing education,” reads the letter.

The lawyer stated that on June 1, 2020, her client sought clarity on reasons for transfer although she duly complied with the directive. ..

“We have been furnished with communication which shows that she has been transferred and not given duties, an office to work from or the necessary tools to work with to an extent that she had to stand in corridors… We, therefore, demand that you furnish us with the reasons for our client’s transfer and resolve our client’s grievances, failing which we have instructions to use other available legal routes,” the lawyer wrote.

Kuipa queried why the issue was being raised almost a year after.

“The letter in question was written last year, it’s almost a year now and why is it resurfacing now. Remember there have been attempts to soil my name in the past,” Kuipa said.

“Since the letter was directed to the Registrar and he is the one who should comment, therefore I cannot respond to it. This issue was resolved long back.”

Makunde, responding through LSU spokesperson, Zwelithini Dlamini said, he was not in possession of the letter from the complainant’s lawyers.

“l have spoken to the Registrar he is denying being in possession of a letter which raises the aforementioned issues,” Dlamini said.

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