witsuniversityCity Press reports that the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) has controversially reinstated a professor who was previously accused of sexual harassment.  

Professor Mulala Danny Simatele was reinstated by the university after a successful review of a panel’s sexual harassment finding against him.  He had been found guilty by the university’s Gender Equity Office (GEO) panel, chaired by attorney Wandisa Phama and two academics, on 25 March last year.  But, Wits informed staff about Simatele’s return in December, saying he would be transferred from the geography, archaeology and environmental studies (GAES) to the global change institute from the beginning of this month until the end of January 2021 and that he would continue to teach a selection of courses in GAES.  According to the record of the first ruling, six women at GAES, split between staff and students, had apparently filed complaints against Simatele.  One of them seemingly withdrew her complaint at the stage of the hearing.  The panel upheld each of the five complaints of sexual harassment and found the Simatele guilty of misconduct in relation to each complaint.  According to Wits’ spokesperson, Buhle Zuma, Simatele applied in line with the university’s policies to have the recommendation of the first panel reviewed and a review committee was convened to hear the application.  The outcome was that the recommendation of the original panel was overturned and there was then no legal impediment preventing Simatele from returning to the university.  “Keeping in mind the fact that some witnesses [not complainants] might be in the same vicinity as Simatele, it was agreed that he would move to another entity in the university,” Zuma indicated.

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