Bongani Mayosi. Picture: RUVAN BOSHOFF
Bongani Mayosi. Picture: RUVAN BOSHOFF

The University of Cape Town (UCT) says it is considering launching an inquiry into the suicide of dean of health Prof Bongani Mayosi.

UCT Council chair Sipho Pityana said a committee of council members chaired by Advocate Norman Arendse would consider requests for an inquiry.

The requests have come from concerned academics and the UCT Black Academic Caucus‚ vice-chancellor Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng‚ and the families of Mayosi and his wife‚ Prof Nonhlanhla Khumalo. The academic bodies said last week they wanted "a thorough investigation of the circumstances leading to Prof Mayoi’s decision to terminate his life".

The groups also proposed that "this inquiry must be set up in consultation with, especially, black staff and students‚ who have, on various occasions, expressed their experiences of being marginalised at UCT". They said that key to the inquiry would be "an understanding of the working conditions in institutions such as UCT".

The Fees Must Fall movement has come under the spotlight over the way its members occupied Mayosi’s office‚ taunted him‚ belittled him and called him names in 2016. Pityana said on Wednesday: "We recognise the profound sense of personal loss that the Mayosi and Khumalo families are feeling‚ and the search for understanding that may help them in a process of healing.

"Consideration of the request for an inquiry is a necessary prior step before any decision to proceed with an inquiry. [The] Council recognises the importance of this matter‚ and the need to proceed responsibly and judiciously‚ with due regard to related issues of privacy."

A UCT statement on Friday‚ the eve of Mayosi’s funeral‚ said the inquiry was already under way.