Professor Vinodh Jaichand has taken Wits to the CCMA for alleged unfair dismissal.
This article has been updated from the original.
Former Head of the Wits School of Law, Professor Vinodh Jaichand, has taken Wits University to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) for what he believes was an unfair dismissal in December 2016.
The arbitration hearings began at the CCMA in central Johannesburg on February 20, however, the matter has been set to continue May 9.
Jaichand is challenging the fairness of his dismissal both in respect of the procedure followed by Wits and the reasons for the dismissal. Jaichand faced a total of 52 charges for misconduct, including bullying, spying and harassment of staff members.
Wits Vuvuzela reported in August 2016 that Jaichand, a human rights specialist, had been placed on “precautionary suspension for a period of 30 days”, after the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management (CLM) said that it had received “various complaints” of a serious nature about him. Prof Imraan Valodia, the dean of CLM, said that the complaints were of such a serious nature, “we believe that these need to be properly investigated”. Four months later, Jaichand was dismissed.
“There are serious concerns about the manner in which the allegations against Professor Jaichand were investigated by Wits and scrutiny of the investigation has already resulted in Wits abandoning at least eight charges,” Jaichand’s lawyer, Shahnaaz Bismilla of Cowan-Harper Attorneys, told Wits Vuvuzela.
She added that, “Wits hired and paid International Consulting Alliance (ICA) for the forensic investigation. ICA was not properly appointed and never followed proper procurement processes. Wits has refused to give information regarding the investigation. There are huge gaps that need to be analysed,” Bismilla said.
According to the law firm, its client was not given an opportunity to respond to the findings throughout the investigation.
The ICA declined to comment on the merits of the investigation.
Wits Senior Communications Officer Buhle Zuma declined to comment on the matter. “The university does not generally share information about disciplinary matters involving staff and students as these are confidential,” she told Wits Vuvuzela.
The CLM faculty communications manager, Kim Jurgensen said, “The University does not generally share in-depth details about disciplinary matters involving staff and students as these are confidential. However the University can confirm that, following a forensic investigation undertaken by the University, Vinodh Jaichand, was, in line with the University’s procedures, charged with misconduct. He was found guilty of numerous charges by an independent Chairperson, who is a Senior Counsel at the Johannesburg Bar, and dismissed. Dr. Jaichand, through his legal teams which includes a senior attorney and senior counsel opted, on a number of issues, to challenge the dismissal. Two such applications were dismissed by the High Court. Jaichand has subsequently decided to pursue the matter further and accordingly the matter is sub judice”.