Former Venda university professor triumphant in sexual harassment case

The South Gauteng High Court has ordered the University of Venda to take disciplinary action against its vice-chancellor, Peter Mbathi, after Professor Thidziambi Phendla brought a sexual harassment case against him.

In 2011, Phendla accused her boss of pestering her for sex and then being dismissed as Dean of The School of Education after she resisted.

Through the protracted legal battle, her marriage nearly collapsed and her employment prospects were destroyed as a result of the reputational damage. She was also accused of taking a R1 000 bribe for a R18 million cleaning tender, despite not having ever sitting on the university's tender committee.

Mbati claimed that Professor Phendla’s alleged “impropriety” was uncovered in a forensic report by Deloitte, but she says she never shown the report during the disciplinary hearing of misconduct that led to her expulsion from the university.

702/Cape Talk's Redi Tlhabi spoke to her regarding her journey to clear her name.

Listen to the conversation below:

Phendla explained how Mbathi invited her to his house under the impression of wanting to know about the university's culture, as he was fairly new to the university.

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.

Professor Thidziambi Phendla

After refusing his advances, Mbathi would inundate her with calls at odd times. After evidence showing a record of his numerous calls, he denied ever calling Phendla and insisted that he wasn't ever sexually attracted to her.

He would call me even at 1am and I'd wonder why he would call a staffer at such a time... He denied it.

Professor Thidziambi Phendla
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