University of Limpopo vice-chancellor in alleged sex scandal involving former professor's wife

Professor Mahlo Mokgalong
Professor Mahlo Mokgalong

Former University of Limpopo professor accuses Mahlo Mokgalong of propositioning his wife and offering to buy her a car

University of Limpopo principal and vice-chancellor Professor Mahlo Mokgalong is embroiled in an alleged sex scandal involving a wife of a former professor at the university.

He is accused of soliciting sex from the woman and promising to buy her a car.

The allegations are contained in a complaint lodged with the department of higher education and training last year.

Former higher education and training minister Naledi Pandor then redirected the complaint to the university council for an investigation.

“The utter disrespect and gamification of my private family affairs by Professor Mokgalong, who has always been well informed by myself out of trust, for his personal self interests of soliciting sexual transactions with [my wife] in exchange for a car has deeply damaged my relationships,” reads the complainant’s submission to the department.

The complainant, who cannot be named to protect his wife’s identity, was suspended last year in April by the vice-chancellor on accusations relating to fraudulent doctoral theses of two students in his faculty.

But sources in the department told City Press that the fall out between the complainant and Mokgalong was over a power struggle as the professor had allegedly made it known before his suspension that he was eyeing the vice-chancellor’s position.

At the time, Mokgalong’s term was coming to an end.

The complainant alleged that Mokgalong had used the private discussion the two had in September 2017 about the complainant’s trip to Italy the following month with one of his students – who later became his wife.

Surprisingly, the complainant said, he was questioned about allegations of sexual harassment in his faculty.

He alleged that Mokgalong trumped-up a charge claiming that an anonymous caller had filed a grievance in March last year relating to his trip to Italy.

This allegation only surfaced while he was being investigated for the initial charge relating to the alleged fraudulent doctoral theses by a private company hired by the university.

He said he found questions from an investigator about his personal affairs “strikingly similar” to issues he had initially discussed with Mokgalong in September 2017.

The complainant said he felt betrayed by his former boss when he allegedly used a private conversation for his own personal interest.

This was after Mokgalong had allegedly sent an SMS to his would-be wife asking if he could call her.

“When she agreed, he called to inform her that he had received an anonymous call about my relationship with her and the trip to Italy. And, when my wife confided [in him], he asked her not to tell me that he had called her.

“One interesting fact is that Prof Mokgalong promised her that he would visit me on September 18 2017 [on Monday] in order to discuss the same issues, and he did come on that Monday. Professor Mokgalong explained [that] all what he said he had been told by an anonymous caller. Then I explained [to him] all matters of the Italy trip as well as the approach to my wife’s family. And I promised him that I would update him as that was a process rather than a once-off event. He then dismissed all the allegations saying, ‘ba tla ba ba gafa’ [They would be mad],” reads part of the complaint.

“At the time, I did not know that Professor Mokgalong was actually proposing a sexual transaction [to my wife] that involved a car by June last year. Hindsight suggests that on or about September 16 2017 Professor Mokgalong would have learnt that I was approaching my wife’s family and he either wanted to confirm or to disrupt [that].

“Indeed, these unlawful suspensions and investigations have caused serious stress on my family … But Professor Mokgalong was so grossly dishonest to then seek to abuse the information that he received from me for unlawful suspensions and investigations. There can be no greater demonstration of gross dishonesty than this case wherein Professor Mokgalong pretends to have received anonymous allegations when I had discussed these matters with him openly.”

The complainant said he believed charges against him were orchestrated because Mokgalong suspended him ahead of a senate meeting on April 18, where a council decision to re-appointment Mokgalong for a fourth term was going to be discussed.

University spokesperson Johannes Selepe denied the allegations. “According to the vice-chancellor, he never made any advances of such nature to Prof’s wife.”

The complainant declined to comment last week.

University council chairperson Pandelani Nefolovhodwe said the allegations were brought to their attention during the complainant’s disciplinary hearing.

“Those processes are currently at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration. That is where the university is, with regard to those processes,” he said.

In his submission, the complainant also alleged that the council’s decision to reappoint Mokgalong for a fourth term was against the university rules.

But Nefolovhodwe said Mokgalong was reappointed in January this year and he had not retired. He said the council had responded to Pandor’s letter.

“Her wish was that this [should] be done through a round-table discussion. However, this has not materialised and the minister has since changed her portfolio. Our council still regards the engagements with the current minister of higher education and training to be a priority. This is to ensure that the department is regularly updated with regard to developments at the University of Limpopo,” Nefolovhodwe said.

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