NEWS

Suspended CPUT VC Earned R2.7m While On Special Leave

The university has not revealed why the disciplinary process has dragged on.

27/09/2017 14:55 SAST | Updated 27/09/2017 14:55 SAST
Lulama Zenzile/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images
Classes are disrupted at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology during the #FeesMustFall protests on October 3, 2016.

Concern has been raised over the lengthy special leave of suspended vice-chancellor of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Dr Prins Nevhutalu, who raised the ire of many students, and who continues to be paid.

His 2016 salary came in at over R2.7-million, according to the university's last annual report.

Nevhutalu had served three of the five years of his contract when he was placed on special leave on October 21, 2016.

This was amid student protests that saw campus activities being suspended.

In the annual report, deputy CPUT council chair Thato Molaolwa said the year had presented a "difficult set of circumstances for CPUT that tested the character of our leadership".

Referring to Nevhutalu, he said in the report: "The disciplinary process is still in progress."

Allegations

The university has remained mum on the allegations against the vice-chancellor and has not revealed why the disciplinary process has dragged on.

"We are not at liberty to comment on the special leave of Dr Nevhutalu," CPUT spokesperson Lauren Kansley told News24 after being sent a number of questions.

All she would say is that he remained on special leave and that Dr Chris Nhlapo remained the acting vice-chancellor until further notice.

Before Nhlapo, Dr John Volmink and Professor Louis Fourie had both acted in his position.

"We see them playing with money," said National Health Education and Allied Workers' Union deputy chair at CPUT, Sello Nkwana.

He said they were being kept in the dark about Nevhutalu, apparently because of an agreement between the parties to keep quiet until the process was finalised.

Nevhutalu faced charges of gross dereliction of duty, gross insubordination, gross negligence, breach of trust and incompatibility, the Mail and Guardian reported.

"He did not implement a resolution of council which amounts to dereliction of duty," said Nkwana.

"We feel that he should be let go. The country does not have good leaders in terms of academics. They are all being recycled and rotated without being held accountable."

Disciplinary process outcome

Students had demanded Nevhutalu's resignation, having previously accused him of corruption and sexual harassment.

A student leader, who asked not to be named for fear of being victimised by the university, claimed that Nevhutalu's suspension came after he had a fall out with someone in an African National Congress faction within the CPUT council.

"Students don't like Prins. He got exactly what he deserved," the student told News24 on Tuesday.

"His persecution is the same cold dish he had been serving to students. At the height of his tyranny, he suspended 77 students."

Earlier in September, Nhlapo updated Parliament's portfolio committee on higher education and training on what was happening at the university.

Committee chair Connie September told News24 that they had voiced their concern at the length of the suspension and its impact on the institution and students.

She said they were told that the outcome of the disciplinary process would soon be presented to the university council.

"The university requires certainty and continuation to ensure no students are affected. We cannot afford any longer that the matter be dragged out much further. They need to come to a final conclusion," she said.

The outcome had not yet been reported to the higher education department.

Department spokesperson Madikwe Mabotha said they requested reports from the council or university on various matters, including this one.

Minister Blade Nzimande had to follow the Higher Education Act with possible interventions.

He said it was important to note that Nzimande had no responsibility under law to act as an employer or to perform oversight on employment matters.

"This is the sole responsibility of the University Council."

When it came to teachers facing serious misconduct, the Employment of Educators Act prescribed that the employer could suspend them on full pay for no longer than three months.

CPUT's employment relations policy did not seem to stipulate a maximum time period for suspension or for a disciplinary process.

News24