FIRST ON EWN: Women at centre of Wits sexual harassment scandal speak out

The three women who accused senior professor Mtendeweka Mhango of sexual misconduct say they’re relieved Wits has dismissed him.

Mtendeweka Mhango. Picture: mepf.co.za

JOHANNESBURG – The women at the centre of a sexual harassment case involving a senior Wits University professor have spoken out, saying they are relieved that the institution has dismissed him.

Professor Mtendeweka Mhango, a deputy head at Wits University’s Law Faculty, was dismissed last week after being found guilty by an independent panel of sexually harassing three of his female colleagues.

Eyewitness News revealed last month how the professor was alleged to have targeted and used his position to try and elicit sexual favours.

After months of investigation by an external panel who found Mhango guilty of sexual offences, the university has now dismissed him with immediate effect.

Wits Vice-Chancellor Adam Habib says, “As a result and as per our policy we’ve informed the individual that he’s to be dismissed, forthwith.”

Habib says the university does not condone any form of gender-based harm.

“And as a public institution we have to be seen to be demonstrating firmly in this regard.”

The three women laid complaints against the professor late last year, accusing him of inappropriate conduct and using his position to illicit sexual favours.

Habib says the university wants to lead by example and address gender-based harm on its campuses.

WOMEN DESCRIBE ORDEAL

The women at the centre of the sexual harassment case have described to Eyewitness News their ordeal saying they would lock their office doors so he wouldn't know they were at work.

Two of the three women have described to Eyewitness News how they would not arrive for Wits committee meetings too early, just in case Mhango was there first.

The women say they tried to manage the uncomfortable working environment, taking it as far as locking themselves in their offices to avoid the professor.

The pair say they remained silent because they believed they were the only ones who were being sexually harassed by the senior law academic.

The women say they decided speak out and report the matter because it had become a critical concern for women beyond just the three of them.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)