Sex pests in Wits Drama: More allegations surface

Sex pests in Wits Drama: More allegations surface

Witsies woke up to front page news on Sunday March 3 about accusations of sexual harassment against a senior lecturer, barely three weeks after the university marched against sexual violence.

Storified by Akinoluwa Oyedele· Mon, Mar 04 2013 02:18:46

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Tsepo Wa Mamatu, deputy head of dramatic arts, is at the centre of a string of allegations of rape and sexual abuse brought to the Sunday Times by former students. It also emerged that Xoli Norman, an academic contracted to teach at Wits, faced allegations of sexual harassment at another university before his appointment.
After Wits Vuvuzela published an article about a lecturer sexually harassing students last year, it received accusations against two other lecturers before the Sunday Times’ expose. As the news spread onTwitter, some students suggested that sexual harassment on campus is a bigger problem than previously thought. 
Students who had known about these allegations or had nearly fallen prey to lecturers themselves heaved a collective sigh of relief at the publicity this story “finally” received.
Tsepo wa Mamatu drama lecturer at WITS FINALLY in the news, exposed for rape and sexual assault!!! Front page, Sunday Times.Toxic Lex
And my Facebook is a cacophony of Varsity friends, men and women, screaming "FINALLY!" We all knew & yet none of us knew how to speak it.Marie Straub
Thanks to all the girls I know who came forward to report this shit. Brave. We all know what happened. Now they know. #TsepoWaMamatu Toxic Lex
@the_lombz And we should all be ashamed for pretending and ignoring it just to keep the peace #SELL_ITZanele Madiba
@MissMadiba nt shocked hey. He was always dodgey! His classes revolved around sex. I even took him to task once, sick man.Sarah Jackson
Meanwhile all the other predators at Wits are looking up to the sky & thanking their lucky stars that its not them dat were caught out.SMH!Nomonde_Ndwalaza
Some Dramatic Arts graduates said the rehearsal space particularly made it easier for lecturers to take advantage of students. Wa Mamatu told the Sunday Times: “what happens in a rehearsal space is private and confidential. I can’t break that confidentiality”.
@troyevillelolly Rehearsal space is sacred. Has to be. You have to be able to push boundaries. Always those who will take advantage of such.Marie Straub
I make no excuses for Wa Matu, I’m just saying the problem is bigger than one individual. The rehearsal space is one of great vulnerabilitymegan godsell
@merrystrwberry Mostly, I remember holding other terrified 20 year olds who were crying and trying to figure out ‘how far was too far’megan godsell
You had to be willing to tell your teacher ‘NO’ in the strongest terms. Repeatedly. Knowing it’d cost you a good 10% come exams.Marie Straub
‘NO’ I will not hump that chair, because that’s NOT a breathing exercise.Marie Straub
‘NO’ I will not do this monologue naked just because you’d like an extra image for your wank-bank.Marie Straub
Two former students also related personal accounts of how lecturers tried to take advantage of them, including during the rehearsal of a rape scene.
I did a piece with two classmates. Lecturer said: "That was so powerful. Now imagine if you set it in a bathroom & you 3 girls were naked."Marie Straub
We were told we were brilliant, but our unwillingness to "go all the way" would cost us marks. He was disappointed we hadn’t got naked.Marie Straub
Eventually, as a ‘fuck you’ to the lecturer, we set it in a bathroom as requested. But wore robes. Scene in no way required nudity.Marie Straub
@merrystrwberry Amen! The shy scarred 20 year old who had to kiss a girl in his class ‘for an exercise’is dancing now! #WITSsexualpredatorsmegan godsell
In my time at Wits Drama school I encountered many wonderful, honourable lecturers, male and female. These assholes were the exceptionmegan godsell
But, there is this to say. I was a student at Wits Drama. Tsepo was a few years ahead. He started as a lecturer in my final year. BUTmegan godsell
during my(and his)time as a student, there was a lecturer sexually harrassing the female students. He would pick a female student every yearmegan godsell
and focus his attention on her. A first year, every year, and in my year it was my friend. He was fired for this, eventually, quietly andmegan godsell
without any open reprimand or repercussion from the university.He is still a known and respected playwright. And the techniques practiced bymegan godsell
Tsepo are techniques this guy used all the time. So the precedent for this behaviour is set and accepted at Wits Drama School.megan godsell
@merrystrwberry I still remember the really awful abuse and harrassment on Brett Bailey’s MEDEiA. The director, also guest lecturing, usedmegan godsell
@merrystrwberry an emotional and deeply sexual script to dominate and fuck with a huge female cast and would remind us that he was gay ifmegan godsell
@merrystrwberry we complained. He once pulled a male actor out of a rape scene and put himself in with the female lead to ‘show’ how it wasmegan godsell
@merrystrwberry done. Process is process, rehearsals need to be a safe and sacred space, but just that. This Confidentiality is bullshitmegan godsell
Wa Mamatu was placed on “special leave” by the university and denied all the allegations brought forward. Some of Wa Mamatu’s friends and colleagues expressed shock at the front page news.
I’m at a loss for tweets today. Tsepo wa Mamatu is a friend of mine. I’ve not gone past that story today. Not looking forward to #TalkAtNineEusebius McKaiser
Spent today thinking about my friends, ex-colleagues & the students I taught for 7 1/2 years at Wits Drama. I’m shocked by today’s news.Theatre…and stuff.
I hope that swift action will be taken to restore the integrity of Wits Drama. My thoughts are with everyone connected to today’s news.Theatre…and stuff.
Higher ed institutions must be a safe space where students learn. This situation is sad, appalling, and embarrassing http://www.timeslive.co.za/local/2013/03/03/senior-wits-lecturer-accused-of-being-sexual-predatorDavid J Hornsby
Wits started a campus-wide investigation into sexual harassment on campus last year. Some said ‘naming and shaming’ remains a powerful way to combat the problem.
Screw this ‘we know these people’, shit, abuse is abuse. We need to stop protecting these preditors. Witsies must come out about Tsepo!Zanele Madiba
I urge ALL Wits drama students present and past to speak up. Please call Wits with your stories. I suspect it’s worse. Your story counts.kgomotso matsunyane
@khadijapatel glad someone was named this time around…that doesn’t happen in these type of stories.Zamantungwa Khumalo
@Margaritamojo @Witsvuvuzela What else can it do? Wits needs evidence and ppl now need to come forward.Shirona

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