DA welcomes appointment of judge Mpati to head UCT investigations

Issued by Chantel King MP – DA Shadow Minister of Higher Education
11 Nov 2022 in News

The DA welcomes the appointment of the former President of the Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa, Judge Lex Mpati, to chair the investigative panel into allegations that University of Cape Town (UCT) Vice-Chancellor Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng and council chair Babalwa Ngonyama misled university executives and the senate about the real reason for the departure of former deputy vice-chancellor for teaching and learning, Prof Lis Lange.

Judge Mpati will be assisted by retired judges Azhar Cachalia and Sisi Khampepe, as well as Drs Trish Hanekom and Bernadette Johnson.

The DA finds the resignation of two council members at this week’s council meeting very concerning, especially given this crucial time.

This investigation, although instituted by the UCT council and senate, should be binding and made available to the Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, at least 30 days after council has interacted with the outcome.

We are mindful of the fact that the previous UCT ombudsman, Zetu Makamandela-Mguqulwa, has submitted a report to the UCT council in 2019 regarding allegations that people who allegedly felt bullied, silenced, undermined, rebuked and treated unfairly by Prof Phakeng. It is troubling that the UCT executive decided to shoot the messengers, as it were, rather than interrogate the content of the report.

The UCT executive and senate’s leadership will be tested on how they handle the outcome of the Mpati investigative report once released.

The DA cannot stress enough that whistleblowers during this investigation must be protected from any intimidation.

An unbiased approach must be taken to resolve the governance crisis at UCT.

We await the outcome of this investigation.