Stellenbosch University is investigating two official complaints laid against a senior staff member by students of the institution. The first student, Mishka Lewis, said the harassment began while she was serving as a Students’ Representative Council member.
“He would caress my hand or embrace me or say something inappropriate to me,” said Mishka.
“It started around the beginning of August. He would touch me inappropriately or say something that made me feel extremely uncomfortable,” she said.
Mishka was part of the SRC’s Consciousness and Sexuality Unit until the university held new elections recently. She said the staff member made sexual remarks to her on more than one occasion.
She said that she felt constantly “anxious and scared” wherever she was.
“I felt like this was my fault, like I was to blame, and that I brought this on myself,” she said.
Mishka finally told her mother earlier this month.
“She was so shocked, she urged me to lodge a formal complaint.”
Mishka lodged a formal complaint at the Equality Unit at the university, and they are currently investigating the matter. She’s also not the only student claiming to have been inappropriately harassed by the same staff member.
In a separate incident, the former SRC secretary-general Liana Masheso has made a similar complaint.
Masheso says other women have also been affected. “He has also done this to a few other women and it’s patronising,” she said.
She says the senior staff official once pulled her to give her a hug.
“I sent him an e-mail regarding his microaggression towards me and told him I will not be oppressed by him,” she said.
University of Stellenbosch spokesperson Susan van der Merwe said, “The Equality Unit at Stellenbosch University has received two official complaints against a staff member, and is following the process set out in the SU Unfair Discrimination and Harassment Policy.”
Photography Stellenbosch University