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FIRST ON EWN: Wits prof investigated for alleged sexual harassment

The senior professor, whose identity is known to EWN, is in a position of influence & authority at the institution.

FILE: An entrance to the main campus of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Eyewitness News has learnt that a senior Wits University professor is being investigated for allegedly sexually harassing three of his colleagues at the institution.

It's understood that these incidents have taken place intermittently over a two-year period and that the professor targeted and sexually harassed two female lecturers and an office administrator.

The professor, whose identity is known to EWN, is also in a position of influence and authority at Wits.

The university's Gender Equity Office is currently handling the case.

Three women claim that the professor offered to help them further their studies, get a promotion and help them at work with special favour, but only if they agreed to partake in sexual activities with him and one other person.

They allege he propositioned them, his conduct was inappropriate, his comments had sexual undertones and he'd call meetings at restaurants on Friday evenings.

One of the complainants claims the professor even pushed her against a wall and forcibly kissed her even though she indicated that she is happily married, and wasn’t interested in him.

The university’s Shirona Patel says the institution only comments on such matters once the legal process has been concluded.

“The university does not comment on any process involving any staff member until such process is finalised.”

An external investigator has been appointed by the Gender Equity Office to deal with this matter, which is at an advanced stage.

EWN understands a report on the outcome of the investigation will be handed over to Wits on Friday.

(Edited by Neo Koza)

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