'I screamed and told him to stop' – UCT VC on parking lot threat

2019-02-08 16:43
Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng (Jenni Evans, News24)

Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng (Jenni Evans, News24)

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University of Cape Town (UCT) Vice-Chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng has spoken out about an incident at a campus parking lot that frightened her so much she screamed to get the person who confronted her to back off. 

"These are the challenges that we have to deal with. They are not unique to me," said Phakeng as she arrived for President Cyril Ramaphosa's State of the Nation Address on Thursday.

Initially, Phakeng had not wanted to discuss the ordeal, saying only that someone had threatened her, but that she would not get a bodyguard like some colleagues had been forced to do. 

She preferred instead to focus on the tragic death of Durban University of Technology student Mlungisi Madonsela who was shot dead during a clash with security guards on campus on Tuesday. 

"It is a sad, sad, situation," Phakeng said of Madonsela's death. "The fact that this happens within a protest situation is what makes it more serious," she said, adding that vice-chancellors cannot simply examine students' demands, but also have to deal with tragedy when it occurs.

However, when pressed about her own ordeal, she said that she had arrived at work very early on Tuesday, as she usually does.

"It's dark," she said, setting the scene. "The person is coming to me charging, and I screamed and told him to stop. 

"I told him I feel he is violent and I told him to stop."

When he moved, she screamed and said she would press a panic button. When she took her phone out and started dialling, the person walked away. 

"It took maybe three to five minutes. The bottom line here is that I feel scared, I felt violated, there was no one outside.

"I would like to pause it here because there's multiple issues to deal with at the moment."

She just wanted to raise awareness about threats to some vice-chancellors, some of whom had resorted to using bodyguards, she said.

UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola on Wednesday described the incident as "deeply concerning", but would not elaborate on the nature of the threat.

"The incident was immediately escalated to the university's campus protection services and is being investigated. UCT condemns this incident, as we would any safety and security incident involving staff or students on our campuses," Moholola said.

Read more on:    uct  |  mamokgethi phakeng
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