Bongani Mayosi 'was called a coconut and a sellout... he couldn't deal with it'

UCT vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng says the institution should have listened to Mayosi after his 2017 breakdown

01 August 2018 - 12:00 By Tanya Farber and Dave Chambers
Professor Bongani Mayosi
Professor Bongani Mayosi
Image: Ruvan Boshoff

With the country reeling from the tragic self-inflicted death on Friday of one of our top clinicians, researchers and medical leaders, Professor Bongani Mayosi, academics at the University of Cape Town took stock of the climate at their institution, asking if his suicide could have been prevented.

Some have viewed Mayosi’s death as a direct result of the emotional stress he suffered when the students in the Fees Must Fall movement turned against him after he had supported them.

The new UCT vice-chancellor, Mamokgethi Phakeng, issued a statement on his death on Tuesday, saying he was the reason she applied for her job.

“He sat with me one day and explained that I needed to offer myself for this leadership role not for my own career but for the good of the institution‚ for the transformation of UCT‚” said Phakeng.

“He knew that black students and staff members needed inspiration. That was one of his motivations in life: to inspire others to excellence in their studies and research and service to others.”

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