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Lecturer says relationship with student is legitimate

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Karen Mwendera
September19/ 2017

“I am in a long-term relationship with a student and it has been interrogated by GEO and subsequently declared under the previous policy.” 

The Wits lecturer from the School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies, whose relationship with a student has sparked a university investigation has confirmed the relationship but said it was declared and cleared with the Gender Equity Office (GEO).

The issue was reported in the last edition of Wits Vuvuzela. The response from the lecturer was received after deadline, too late for publication.

In the brief statement, the lecturer said he could only respond to personal questions, other questions should be referred to the legal office. He wrote: “I was appointed as a lecturer in archaeology in 2013. Before becoming a lecturer … I had a relationship with an MA student.

“I am in a long-term relationship with a student and it has been interrogated by GEO and subsequently declared under the previous policy.” However, he did not clarify whether or not the master’s student was the same student he is currently involved with.  He did not respond to further requests for clarification.

Wits Vuvuzela wishes to correct one aspect of the previous report: the lecturer is not a professor, as previously reported. We apologise for this error.

Meanwhile, lawyers representing the couple have lodged a “take-down notice” through the hosts of the Wits Vuvuzela website demanding that the report be removed from the site as well as links to the article shared on social media platforms.

Separately, the lawyers have also demanded that Wits Vuvuzela issue an apology to the couple as the publication contains “unlawful and defamatory allegations”.

The head of Wits Journalism, Professor Franz Krüger, said a response is being formulated to these demands with the Wits Legal Office.

According to the Wits Communications Office, an investigation into the relationship is still underway.

Vice-Chancellor, Adam Habib, told Wits Vuvuzela last week: “The preliminary investigation into the sexual harassment claims suggested that a further, fuller investigation was required in the Department. “A team was then provided to undertake this investigation and is expected to report sometime next week, after which the University will make appropriate decisions,” he added.

This incident was one of several allegations which came to light when Wits Vuvuzela received a report detailing the matter mentioned in the previous article.

In response to inquiries about further developments, Wits University’s head of communications, Shirona Patel said, “The Vice-Chancellor received the report late last week and is reviewing it.”

“The Vice-Chancellor is away this week and when he returns will meet with the persons mentioned in the report before he comments publicly on the matter or makes recommendations on the way forward,” she added.

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Karen Mwendera