Gender commission takes ‘extremely dim view’ of UKZN VC’s no-show

01 December 2016 - 15:43 By Bongekile Macupe

University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) vice-chancellor Dr Albert van Jaarsveld came under fire at the Commission for Gender Equality on Thursday morning for failing to appear before it and instead sending someone on his behalf.

Dr Albert van Jaarsveld.
Dr Albert van Jaarsveld.
Image: Waldo Swiegers

The commission is hosting public hearings on gender transformation at institutions of higher learning‚ and Thursday’s sitting was to hear submissions from UKZN and the University of the Witwatersrand on their plans and challenges in this regard.

The commissioners did not take kindly to Van Jaarsveld being a no-show and instead sending a director of human resources development‚ Busisiwe Ramabodu.

Commission chairperson Mfanozelwe Shozi told Ramabodu that the commission had not received a letter from Van Jaarsveld alerting it that he would be sending a delegate.

Ramabodu said there was a “mix-up” with communication and that she had advised Van Jaarsveld on Wednesday morning that the expectation from the commission was that he needed to appear himself. She said Van Jaarsveld said that he could make himself available on Friday. The commission is concluding its two-day hearing on Thursday.

However‚ Shozi said there was no “mix-up” with communication from the commission’s side as it had subpoenaed Van Jaarsveld to personally appear before it.

Commissioner Nomsisi Bata said the no-show by Van Jaarsveld was an indication of how leaders are not taking issues of transformation seriously.

Commissioners had to take a break to deliberate on whether to continue with the hearing or not.

After the brief intermission‚ the commissioners came back with a ruling. Shozi said the commission took “an extremely dim view of the non-appearance” of Van Jaarsveld. He said the notice to Van Jaarsveld was served by the sheriff of the court and clearly pre-warned of sanctions for non-compliance.

One of the sanctions is that if a person fails to appear before the commission‚ they are guilty of an offence and liable‚ on conviction‚ to a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months.

“Moreover‚ the plethora of correspondence as early as June 2016 was addressed to the VC. Thus‚ the rationale tendered today holds no legal merit/weight.

“The CGE's stringent requirement of calling VCs to account is to hold universities’ accounting officers accountable and to ensure that undertakings made shall be implemented by the institutions‚” said Shozi.

Shozi said that even though the commission reserves the right to impose sanctions on Van Jaarsveld‚ it will give him a final opportunity to account before it at its head office early next year. Wits was expected to make submissions this afternoon.

TMG Digital/Sowetan