News / South Africa

Gosebo Mathope
4 minute read
6 Jul 2017
3:00 pm

Leave the house! Unizulu employees allegedly told during eviction

Gosebo Mathope

Aggrieved staff members accuse the university management of carrying out illegal evictions.

Zini Golf Estate in Mtunizini Facebook

One of the justifications University of Zululand (Unizulu) provided for purchasing upmarket houses in an exclusive golf estate in Mtunzini for a whopping R27 million without budget allocation was that the institution struggled to attract and retain requisite skills to this peri-urban environment.

Based in the rural uThungulu district municipality, a large chunk of which previously formed part of the KwaZulu bantustan, Unizulu’s main campus is situated in Kwadlangezwa, 19 kilometres south of Empangeni. This is 142km north of Durban and 33km from the Richards Bay satellite campus.

A number of fired and suspended university employees allege there is an apartheid-style illegal eviction operation carried out by vice-chancellor Prof Xoliswa Mtose. Those who spoke out, a few expressing fear of reprisals, all accused Mtose of using the eviction as a punitive action against those opposed to her “tyrannical” management style.

Former education studies lecturer, Prof Martin Duma, currently occupies one of the cluster of houses on Crescent Street in town.

These are some of the houses Mtose allegedly told finance department were unfit for occupation by her management team. The expenditure plan had a budget allocated for renovations and she reportedly rejected this option.

“I am not vacating this house up until I find another job. I obtained a protection order against the university when Garrod [former deputy vice-chancellor] sent officials from audit unit to evict me. I asked them to check what the conditions of the lease were. There is no staff policy or lease here.

READ MORE: UniZulu employee faces R5m defamation claim

“I was dismissed in February 2017 as head of department [education] because they said I was protecting Jamile [former Nehawu shop steward]. They said I don’t control him. The CCMA said this case is rubbish and reinstated me in April. I resigned in May to protect my own academic integrity. I will leave then,” Duma said.

He was not the only education faculty staffer to challenge university management. Another lecturer, Phumlani Khanyile, also applied for a protection order when he was told to vacate the house he occupied before his disciplinary case was finalised.

“They [management] started harassing me with eviction, saying I should leave the following day. I approached Empangeni Magistrates’ Court and was granted a protection order. They applied for the order to be rescinded, and they failed. They approached the high court to apply for my eviction. Today there were three applications for eviction in Durban,” explained Khanyile.

“I was charged with gross misconduct and dismissed. I appealed and lost. I then went to CCMA with a lawyer. They said I signed for a student to graduate without abiding by the rules. The lawyer found none of the documents had my signature,” said Khanyile.

Students, as claimed, are not spared from these illegal evictions. In January, just before the parliamentary portfolio committee hearings into Unizulu, several students claimed they were locked outside of their rooms to “prevent” them from preparing submissions to parliamentarians.

Another employee provided the address of a house the university tried evicting her from in a court affidavit supporting the application for the minister to release the 2012 Ernst & Young forensic investigation. “Yeah, I am standing in front of the house. I am not going anywhere,” she declared.

“I am one of the students who was kicked out between 25th of January until the 11th of February. I had to go to the head of housing. Another student was not only kicked out of residence, he was permanently excluded, but the court overturned that ruling,” he told The Citizen.

A Unizulu housing report The Citizen has seen indicates that, excluding the seven properties recently purchased, the asset register contained about 87 properties ranging from houses to apartments mainly occupied by staff members and their families.

The information shows the majority of the occupants were subsidised on the rental, while in some instances it was not clear whether they paid at all. This was confirmed by an axed academic, who said: “The housing policy was only adopted last year when the evictions increased. But even after that nothing has changed because most of us don’t pay.”

The Citizen has tried for the past few days to obtain a comment from Prof Mtose and her management team members on various issues raised by various staff members and some students.

The last response from Gcina Nhleko-Mdluli, director of communications and marketing, was: “We acknowledge receipt of your enquiry, and please liaise with my office for enquiries relating to the university affairs and executive.”


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