Fort Hare press on with anticorruption plan, despite killings
The murders of bodyguard Mboneli Vesele and fleet manager Petrus Roets are linked to corruption investigations at the university
Despite University of Fort Hare (UFH) management staff increasingly being intimidated and threatened with violence, the corruption clean-up project will not be halted, says the institution's council.
That was after two staff members were killed.
UFH council chair Bishop Ivan Abrahams said the killings of vice-chancellor Prof Sakhela Buhlungu’s bodyguard, Mboneli Vesele, and fleet manager Petrus Roets could be “inextricably” linked to corruption investigations at the university. Roets was gunned down in a suspected hit in May 2022.
President Cyril Ramaphosa previously authorised the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to look into allegations of corruption and maladministration at UFH.
SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said the investigations concerned maladministration in the awarding of honours degrees, mismanagement of funds and a probe into four 2012 tenders. These included cleaning and gardening contracts, student accommodation tenders, maintenance and repair of air conditioning tenders and collusion.
Abrahams said Vesele’s murder was a direct threat to Buhlungu. He said the council would support management despite the attacks, against the backdrop of internal investigations and the SIU’s probe.
“Executive management and senior staff are increasingly being intimidated and threatened with violence. We have had to bear witness to the loss of two lives. Yet it is our view that it is exactly the success of the renewal project that underpins this terror campaign,” said Abrahams.
“Therefore, the council is resolute in backing the management executive committee and the vice-chancellor in the clean-up campaign and the rebuilding of the university. As a council, we call on all law-enforcement agencies to ensure arrests are made and the renewal project at the University of Fort Hare is secured.”
At Vesele’s funeral, higher education and training minister Blade Nzimande said he strongly suspected that as a result of corruption and criminality, Vesele was assassinated and Buhlungu and other university employees continuously threatened.
“As various stakeholders — the University of Fort Hare, our department, our law-enforcement agencies — we have to ensure we ramp up our efforts to ensure the safety of this university community,” he said.
“We dare not allow instances of corruption and lawlessness to rob the future generations an opportunity to study in this institution, which largely caters for the dependents of the working class and the poor.”
The police ministry said a multidisciplinary team was established to investigate threats on the lives of the institution's staff members, but no arrests had yet been made.
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