The University of Venda (Univen) vice-chancellor, Professor Peter Mbati, has got off scot-free after he was trapped in a sexual harassment case.
Mbati has been in a sexual harassment battle since 2011 with Univen former professor, Thidziambi Phendla who accused him of pestering her with demands for sex.
In her complaint, Phendla, a former dean of the School of Education in Univen, recalled how Mbati invited her to his house under the impression of wanting to know about the university’s culture, as he [Mbati] was fairly new to the university at that time.
She said: “When I arrived there, he told me that it was an excuse, he likes me and he feels that we should have a relationship. I told him I’m married and can’t do that….”
However, five years after the battle, the University decided to sweep the case under carpet due to lack of evidence.
Univen legal adviser Edward Lambani said:
“…..regrettably, the university is not in a position to disclose the mediation report as it is confidential. However, for the sake of completeness, the finding made in the report was that there was no basis for Professor Phendla’s complaint that Professor Mbati sexually harassed her.
In light of that finding, the university made a decision to not pursue any disciplinary charges against Professor Mbati.”
Univen deputy council chairperson, Thovhele Tshivhase, said that the council received a “confidential report” as instructed by the court but won’t punish Mbati.
He said: “Pursuant to the report, council resolved that the matter of sexual harassment against the vice-chancellor be closed as the report found that there was no basis for the sexual harassment claims by Professor Phendla.”
Through the protracted legal battle, Phlendla nearly lost her marriage while her employment prospects were destroyed as a result of her damaged reputation.
Reacting to the council’s decision, embittered Phlendla said: “Mbiti wanted to settle, and why would someone want to do so if not in a corner? Modise has refused to give me the second report. I’m shocked [by the way] the council continues to punish me.”