Campus Health does not have a doctor on its staff, nor is its state of hygiene ideal, the sexual harassment report revealed.
Wits University commissioned an inquiry into the nature, scale and extent of the problem of sexual harassment on campus.
One of the findings in the report points out that there has been a vacant position for a medical doctor at Campus Health which has five staff members servicing 30 000 students and 2 000 Wits staff members.
According to the report, Campus Health is under- resourced and does not have enough staff to deal with sexual harassment cases.
The report criticised the physical conditions of Campus Health, located in the Matrix.
“There is no fresh air, the physical conditions are unhygenic, with common cases of flooding from the top floors,” read the report.
[pullquote align=”right”]”There is no fresh air, the physical conditions are unhygenic, with common cases of flooding from the top floors,” read the report. [/pullquote]
The location is also “not suitable” for the disabled.
The report revealed that Campus Health does not have its own vehicle and cannot transport sexual abuse complainants to the necessary points of assistance. Campus Control is responsible for transporting complainants to Milpark Hospital.
The findings in the report said Campus Control does not have any particular facilities for victims who need to be transported to
Victims of sexual abuse are required to wait in a general waiting area where there is foot traffic.
The university’s sexual harassment adviser, Maria Wanyane, said Campus Health staff are currently not permitted to handle any form of sexual harassment case, due to lack of resources.
Rape kits and evidence needs to be collected by specialised doctors, but Campus Health does not have such a doctor on call, Wanyane said
One of the contradictions the report picked up was that victims can bring a friend with them to file a complaint. However, they cannot accompany the complainant when they are transported to the hospital in a bakkie, which only seats two.
The report also revealed that Campus Control does not have enough officers to deal with the number of requests they receive for their escort service.
A “very senior” member of management has been accused of using his position to quash allegations against him, the sexual harassment report has revealed.
This is the fifth allegation of sexual harassment since the start of the inquiry. Three lecturers have been fired while the final investigation on Dr Lord Mawuko-Yevugah of the international relations department is still pending.[pullquote]“to encourage other staff and student representatives to coerce the student to retract the complaint and not to take the matter any further”[/pullquote]
The report, which was released last week, says the senior member of staff used his influence “to encourage other staff and student representatives to coerce the student to retract the complaint and not to take the matter any further”.
Prof Bonita Meyersfeld, director of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), said she could not say who the accused was or how many people made the accusation due to a confidentiality agreement with all the people who spoke to the committee during the inquiry.
Meyersfeld said she was not certain whether this specific case was investigated.
“Well my honest answer is that I do not think so, but I do not know that for sure.”
At the press conference held last week, Meyersfeld said other perpetrators were discovered during the inquiry, but cases were dealt with on a confidential basis and unless students asked for their accusations to be pursued, they were not.[pullquote align=”right”]“We pursued various other avenues to get to the bottom of it [new cases]. But in those instances our findings yielded no further investigation.” [/pullquote]
Meyersfeld said, however, that she was not certain if there was an explicit instruction from the senior staff member’s accuser/s that this matter should not be investigated.
Vice Chancellor Prof Adam Habib told the press that all the matters that came to their attention during the inquiry were investigated although nothing materialised.
“We pursued various other avenues to get to the bottom of it [new cases]. But in those instances our findings yielded no further investigation,” Habib said.
One of the report’s recommendations was to have a new, independent sexual harassment office. Meyersfeld said this was important in cases like this where a member of staff from the vice chancellor’s office may be involved.
“We realise that the proposed office must be completely autonomous so that if someone from the vice chancellor’s office is affected, a person can go directly to levels as high as senate.”
The inquiry was officially started on February 1, after the Sunday Times published an article on the allegations against drama lecturer Tsepo wa Mamatu.
The report says, however, that the Legal Office began the process of establishing the inquiry after Wits Vuvuzela published an article in September last year about a professor who asked students for sex.
The aim of the inquiry was not to investigate specific cases of sexual harassment but to find out how prevalent the problem is on campus.
It was conducted by Meyersfeld along with other members of CALS and lawyers from law firm Norton Rose. Together, they compiled the report and made recommendations for the university to deal with cases of sexual harassment on campus more effectively.