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Media Centre  |  COSATU Press Statements

COSATU condemns unfair treatment of UKZN academics


The Congress of South African Trade Unions regrets the resignation of University of KwaZulu-Natal physicist, Professor Nithaya Chetty, who, together with mathematics Professor John van den Berg, was facing disciplinary action and likely dismissal on charge s of "failing to take due care in communicating with the media, breaching confidentiality and dishonest and/or gross negligence". This related to their public criticisms in the media of the university's academic freedom record.

Van den Berg is reported to have signed a settlement agreement last week allowing him to keep his job and terminating disciplinary proceedings but Chetty refused to sign the settlement, which involved an apology and partial admission of guilt.

COSATU shares the concern of 35 academics from Oxford, Cambridge, Berkeley and Stanford universities who have submitted a document to the university council chairperson, Mac Mia, expressing deep concern that the disciplinary process flew in the face of "gl obally recognised standards regarding the rights of academic staff to speak and act on policies of their institutions".

COSATU agrees that this action is an attack on free speech and employees rights. The federation also supports the call on the university by the National Tertiary Education Staff Union to remove outside legal representatives from disciplinary inquiries and allow academics and students to meet freely and voice concerns about academic ­freedom.

Patrick Craven (National Spokesperson)

Congress of South African Trade Unions