UCT sexual assault case reopened for further investigation

A senior and joint staffer of UCT and the Western Cape Department of Health and Wellness is accused of rape and sexual assault by a former student and department staff member. Picture: LEON LESTRADE

A senior and joint staffer of UCT and the Western Cape Department of Health and Wellness is accused of rape and sexual assault by a former student and department staff member. Picture: LEON LESTRADE

Published Mar 6, 2024


Cape Town - Police have reportedly reopened the case involving a senior and joint staffer of UCT and the Western Cape Department of Health and Wellness, accused of rape and sexual assault of a former student and department staff member.

The alleged victim was recently informed by email, seen by the Cape Argus, on February 22, that the docket was at the national director of public prosecutions (NDPP), and the case was reopened for further investigation, while a new investigating officer had been assigned to it.

When contacted, the investigating officer said to refer all queries to the provincial communications officer.

Police spokesperson Joseph Swartbooi, however, said to refer all enquiries to the spokesperson of the NDPP for a response.

The NDPP said yesterday that it would respond in due course.

The reopening of the case comes after the complainant was informed through a nolle prosequi certificate, or formal notice of abandonment in January, that the case was closed.

According to the complainant, the alleged rape took place at the suspect’s office on March 3, 2021.

The complainant, who was a medical registrar at the time, was called into the accused’s office for a one-on-one meeting, wherein the alleged sexual assault took place.

Prior to the alleged sexual assault, she said she was also faced with racism and sexual comments made by other supervisors.

On the day of the alleged incident, the suspect removed his genitals from his pants and the complainant immediately “zoned out” and felt weak.

This escalated to her being sexually violated inside the office.

She said her depression worsened after the incident and that she went “mute” and attempted suicide. She had also written a suicide note. She said the suspect was never suspended pending the investigation.

A report on the investigation of sexual harassment complaint implicated three people, and found that based on the interview with the complainant and her current mental state and presentation, it was likely that the physical sexual harassment occurred.

The report, dated February 18, 2021, also found that there were sufficient grounds to proceed with a precautionary suspension of the accused pending further investigation.

“I went to the SAPS in April 2021 and I was so discouraged from opening a rape case based on how I was treated, like I was the responsible person for the rape.

“They knew him and asked if I was sure I wanted to proceed. I opted to not open based on how they treated me.”

She lodged a complaint with the police on February 6, 2022, days prior to her being suspended from her place of employment at Groote Schuur Hospital on February 18.

At the time, the complainant’s case gained traction after the allegations were placed on X (formerly Twitter) on a page called RAPED@UCT (@RAPEDUCT1).

A settlement of R600 000 has been offered for the withdrawal of all labour disputes, civil and criminal matters, and the complainant seeks employment outside the Western Cape Department of Health.

“I’ve been offered money to quietly go away … They offered it without prejudice. But the core of the matter is that rape is not for sale; second, it’s the fact that the institution has normalised and for years silenced victims and it’s absolutely normal in the way that they do it.”

The Department of Health and Wellness said it was disappointed at the continued unfounded allegations of sexual harassment and rape.

Department spokesperson Dwayne Evans said the allegations were thoroughly and independently investigated and proven false.

The complainant was a former UCT student who was employed by the department.

“The investigation has concluded that there is absolutely no material evidence to support the allegations made. The investigating officer’s report, through interviews with witnesses, found that fraudulent claims of rape and sexual harassment had been made and that evidence had been fabricated,” Evans said.

He said the department stood by the findings and would co-operate with any law enforcement investigation into the matter.

UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola said the university was unaware of the case being reopened.

“Three separate independent and external investigations were conducted by SAPS, WCG Health and Wellness and the Presidency, and all three found no substance to the claims.”

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Cape Argus