NEWS
28/01/2018 15:14 SAST | Updated 28/01/2018 15:20 SAST

Wits To Investigate Alleged Racist Incident

"If they are true, disciplinary action will be taken against the lecturer in question."

Johannesburg, South Africa - February, 22nd 2015: Great Hall on East campus at Wits University seen close up with the pillars in parthenon design.  This university is situated north of the city centre with many campuses.
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Johannesburg, South Africa - February, 22nd 2015: Great Hall on East campus at Wits University seen close up with the pillars in parthenon design. This university is situated north of the city centre with many campuses.

Wits University has said it is aware of, and investigating, tweets containing screenshots allegedly showing a lecturer referring to protesters as "monkeys" in email correspondence.

"If they are true, disciplinary action will be taken against the lecturer in question, in line with the University's rules and processes," the university told HuffPost on Saturday.

The name of Dieter Hartmann, an engineering lecturer at Wits, is visible in an email allegedly sent from his official university address in which he appears to call protesting students and workers "monkeys".

In the email, the accused lecturer appears to have written that protesters needed a tetrapak. He added, "Oh no, they are singing outside the window now. Urgh monkeys. Biggest Jungle. Connect the dots."

Wits has said it will not tolerate prejudice and would deal with the matter urgently.

"The University has a zero tolerance approach towards any form of prejudice and will ensure that the matter is dealt with expeditiously," it said.

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In addition, a subsequent email allegedly shows Hartmann apologising for his comments.

He appears to have said he did not mean to "hurt or harm" others, adding he is known for being a joker which can sometimes be "out there and close to the line".

He conceded that the matter wasn't funny and that he crossed the line.

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Disclaimer: Wits University is currently investigating the email and HuffPost cannot independently verify its authenticity. HuffPost has attempted to contact Hartmann who has been unreachable at the time of publishing.