Thursday, October 22, 2020

UB suspends BCP’s Motsei Rapelana among other academic staff

By Khonani Ontebetse

The University of Botswana (UB) has slapped two of its directors with suspension letters over allegations of maladministration bringing to three the number of academic staff suspended for unrelated alleged transgressions this year alone.

Director of Academic Services Motsei Rapelana and Director of Information Technology (IT) Ratsela Mooketsi suspensions were confirmed by UB’s Public Affairs director, Mhitshane Reetsang.

The suspensions come hot on the heels of that of UB’s Deputy Vice Chancellor (Student Affairs) Professor Martin Mokgwathi over serious allegations of plagiarism. 

It is alleged he plagiarised a speech by former Limerick University President Professor Don Barry that he delivered six years ago in Ireland.

“Yes he [Mokgwathi] is suspended pending investigations. He is innocent until proven guilty,” Reetsang said.

“The Director [IT] Mr. Mooketsi was suspended a couple of weeks ago while the Director of Academic Services Miss Rapelana was suspended this last week,” she said.

Contacted for a comment, Rapelana confirmed her suspension and referred further inquiries to Reetsang while Mooketsi could not be reached for a comment.

Reetsang said it was still early to share reasons for the suspensions of the duo because no charges have been laid against them yet as investigations are still at a preliminary stage.

“They have not been charged yet because we are still investigating now. We are just investigating the allegations leveled against them,” she said. The public affairs director said the suspensions relate to the IT system which is not operating to its full capacity.  

“The suspensions [of both Rapelana and Mooketsi] are in relation to the IT system which is not working properly. We want to establish what could be the cause. That is why we have suspended them so that we can conduct investigations to find out the cause of the problem,” she said.

Reetsang further stated that “We are not saying Ms Rapelana as Director of Academic Services or Mr. Mooketsi as Director of IT Services are guilty. Remember we admit students through the IT system. We want to identify where the cause could be coming from. We are not saying the admitting authority or the person in charge of IT is guilty,” she said.

She reiterated that the suspensions are “indefinite” but was quick to say they do not imply the affected employees are guilty of any offence. “To the suspended it is to say let’s investigate while you are aware.”

The suspension of the duo, The Telegraph has established, follows demonstrations and petitions delivered to management recently by UB students.

Sources close to the issues say students petitioned management over contentious issues relating to registration and the delay in crediting their allowances.

The IT system is said to have cost the institution more than P18 million but it is not functioning to its full capacity. It is understood that more suspensions are underway as the current Vice Chancellor Professor David Norris intends to restore public confidence in the university.

“There are still going to be a lot of suspensions because he [Norris] has an ear for students’ grievances and those of staff members,” one source said.

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