Defend Truth


Independent report spits fire at UCT’s recent leadership, blasting Mamokgethi Phakeng

Independent report spits fire at UCT’s recent leadership, blasting Mamokgethi Phakeng
From left: University of Cape Town former vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sunday Times / Esa Alexander) | Chair of Council, University of Cape Town, Babalwa Ngonyama. (Photo: UCT news) | Gallo Images

The report released this week by an independent panel investigating governance failures at UCT in recent years excoriates former vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng. It paints a picture of a narcissistic and thin-skinned leader who exploited and encouraged racial divisions – talking up a narrative of racial empowerment in public while saving some of her worst abuse for black women in private.

An independent panel tasked with investigating governance failures at the University of Cape Town released its long-awaited report on Wednesday. 

It is scorching in its condemnation of both former vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng and former UCT Council chair Babalwa Ngonyama, stating: “To conclude that Ngonyama and Phakeng’s conduct during this period amounted to a governance failure would be understatement”.

The report released this week by an independent panel investigating governance failures at UCT in recent years excoriates former vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng. It paints a picture of a narcissistic and thin-skinned leader who exploited and encouraged racial divisions – talking up a narrative of racial empowerment in public while saving some of her worst abuse for black women in private.

Phakeng “repeatedly conducted herself unprofessionally by engaging in activity that is prohibited in the UCT workplace, including using threats, intimidation, ethnic slurs, personal insults and also posting racially offensive material on social media”, the report concludes.

Her behaviour was aided and protected by former UCT Council chair Babalwa Ngonyama’s multiple breaches of good governance. The report finds “Ngonyama’s conduct in failing to perform her fiduciary duty to UCT” sufficiently concerning that it recommends the businesswoman “be reported to the appropriate regulatory authorities”.

In total, the findings of the independent panel both vindicate and greatly extend the October 2022 report from Daily Maverick initially exposing the governance crisis within the University of Cape Town.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Inside UCT’s governance crisis

Independent panel included two judges

The report was produced by a panel chaired by retired judge Lex Mpati, joined by Judge Azhar Cachalia, Dr Patricia Hanekom and Dr Bernadette Johnson. It heard the transcribed equivalent of 3,825 pages of oral evidence from 27 witnesses, read 1,671 pages in evidence from written statements from additional witnesses, and considered a further 478 pages of documentary evidence. The period it looked at in UCT governance ran from January 2018 to December 2022.

The catalyst for the report was the circumstances around the departure of deputy vice-chancellor Lis Lange, together with an exodus of other senior staff members under the leadership team of then UCT vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng and Council chair Babalwa Ngonyama. Adding to the concerns was the fact that a number of the departing senior staff members had been made to sign non-disclosure agreements, an unusual feature for a university environment which traditionally favours freedom and openness.

After Phakeng reached an agreement to vacate her term early, the terms of reference of the panel were amended to “no longer [require] a specific focus on the VC’s conduct”. It is a sign of how deeply and widely Phakeng’s leadership affected recent years at UCT, however, that her malign impact on the institution remains a major preoccupation of the report.

Tellingly, the report’s preamble notes: “Most witnesses felt comfortable with their names being mentioned, more so after the fear of reprisal had receded with the departure of the VC and the Chairperson of Council”.

Phakeng “encouraged racial division”

The report finds that the issues with Phakeng at UCT pre-dated her appointment as vice-chancellor, beginning with when she took up a post as deputy vice-chancellor (DVC).

“Soon into Phakeng’s term as DVC, problems arose with her leadership,” the report states. Phakeng had poor relationships with other members of the leadership team and was hostile to any criticism or comment from her peers, no matter how well meant”.

The report states that Phakeng “appeared to encourage racial division”, at one stage congratulating former UCT Ombud Zetu Makamandela-Mguqulwa for “taking on a white man” after a minor disagreement between the Ombud and former DVC Danie Visser. The Ombud “differed” with Phakeng’s interpretation, explaining the interaction with Visser as essentially benign.

Despite a number of accounts from witnesses of Phakeng breaking down into tears – or as one witness put it, “crying and screaming uncontrollably” – the former VC would leave the investigating panel nonplussed when she informed them that “black women don’t cry and white and coloured women are taught to cry to evoke sympathy”.

The panel summarises testimony it heard from multiple witnesses as follows:

“Phakeng insisted that she was the only ‘real’ black person in the executive because she had kinky hair, dismissing the claim by others, who identified themselves as black because they too had suffered racial discrimination in the past. Phakeng said openly there were too many Coloured and Indian people in executive positions.”

The report details the experience of numerous black women who suffered at the hands of Phakeng, including the director of the International Academic Programmes Office, Dr Beata Mtyingizana, who told the panel how Phakeng had “humiliated” her to the point of tears in front of colleagues.

“Mtyingizana stated that Phakeng’s behaviour towards her began to affect her health. She left UCT in 2018, less than a year after her appointment,” the report states.

With Phakeng as VC, the real problems begin

Phakeng was appointed to the UCT top spot despite misgivings – and one of the unofficial conditions imposed upon her was that she would work with a coach to improve her leadership style. Phakeng resented this, and on this point the panel sides with the former VC, writing: “That the appointment of a VC can be made subject to a condition that a mentor be appointed to overcome a major leadership deficit was unwise”.

Although Phakeng would repeatedly claim that the institution at large was against her, the panel reports that it “heard repeatedly that everyone wanted Phakeng to succeed. As one witness put it, If she succeeds, we succeed.”

Indeed, Phakeng faced little overt criticism due to fear. The usual response to Phakeng, witnesses testified, was to “back off because it was at best unproductive and at worst career-limiting to be opposing Phakeng”.

Phakeng continued to direct members of the administration who identified as black that they could not do so if they were not African, telling one: “[Y]ou’re not Black … you don’t have hair like me, you don’t smell like me, you don’t look like me and you don’t taste like me.”

In one incident reported to the panel, Phakeng opposed the appointment of a black external candidate in favour of a white internal candidate because she was reportedly convinced the black candidate was being “pushed…as a possible replacement for herself”.

The panel took a dim view of this incident, writing:

“Disregarding established processes of good governance, especially in regard to the appointment, promotion, and termination of senior academics and staff, including the irregular granting and refusal of performance bonuses became a feature of Phakeng’s leadership, particularly during Ngonyama’s Council, which aided and abetted her actions.”

Barely two months into Phakeng’s tenure, former DVC Loretta Feris formally wrote to Phakeng, copying the leaders of Council, to ask her to put an end to “multiple encounters of private and public humiliation and disrespect” that Feris had experienced at Phakeng’s hands.

Attempts to hold Phakeng accountable were well nigh impossible; the report notes that she resented, for instance, attempts to “justify some of her personal expenses, such as her use of an Uber to and from her official residence”.

Exodus of senior staff

The panel found that the subsequent resignation of Feris and multiple other individuals were “directly attributable to the conduct of the VC and multiple governance failures of Council”.

Both Ngonyama and Phakeng acted improperly and unlawfuly in handling the termination of Feris’ contract, in addition to creating a work environment for Feris which became “intolerable”.

The report supports the account previously given by Lis Lange that Ngonyama and Phakeng in effect colluded to push her out of her position. In the panel’s words, “[Ngonyama’s and Phakeng’s] malign interest in wanting to push Lange out converged”. Phakeng’s subsequent account to the UCT Senate about why and how Lange was leaving her position was “untruthful”.

The panel also supported the testimony of former Communication and Marketing Department executive director Gerda Kruger, who termed Phakeng’s leadership style “extraordinarily problematic and the most trauma-inducing manager I have ever experienced in my 40 years of work”. Kruger was pushed out of her job for having authorised the production of a farewell gift for Feris, which the panel found was “driven by [Phakeng’s] dislike for both Feris and Kruger”, with the actual disciplinary charges having “no merit”.

Another almost-exit directly related to Phakeng was that of registrar Royston Pillay, who told the panel that his relationship with the VC had become “intolerable”. As an example of the “improper pressure” Pillay was placed under by Phakeng, he cited the fact that he was instructed by her “to approach media houses for information regarding the source of leaks from the Council meetings that were reported in the media”. Pillay’s possible continuation of tenure, post-Phakeng’s departure, is still being negotiated.

Other resignations in which Phakeng was cited as one of the primary factors: UCT’s COO Reno Morar, Dean Linda Ronnie, HR head Miriam Hoosain, and director of the Office of the VC Judith du Toit.

UCT Council in the firing line

The UCT Council in place at the time when Phakeng was appointed, led by Sipho Pityana, comes in for criticism for having supported her appointment despite “serious concerns about her leadership”.

Pityana subsequently failed to take decisive action against Phakeng, in the panel’s view at least partly because “he was reluctant to act against a black female VC because he feared a backlash from her supporters and elsewhere”.

Ultimately, the panel finds, “Pityana and his Council neglected their fiduciary duty to UCT by failing to take reasonable steps to discipline the VC or terminate her contract”.

It is Pityana’s successor, businesswoman Babalwa Ngonyama, who is the greater target of the panel’s ire, however. In addition to Ngonyama being implicated in several other serious governance issues, the former Council chair “misused her position as chairperson to stymie discussion of matters in which she was personally implicated”.

In another shocking incident, Ngonyama instructed Registrar Pillay to send the Minister of Higher Education a report on a Council meeting which she had dishonestly amended.

Deputy Council Chair Pheladi Gwangwa also comes in for heat in her chairing of Council meetings during the worst moments of crisis in late 2022, having let Ngonyama and Phakeng vote on resolutions which directly affected them in a way which was “scarcely believable”.

Gwangwa, writes the panel, was “clearly on a mission to secure her pre-planned outcome”, and later also released a statement on events at Council which “Gwangwa knew was false”.

UCT Council apologises

A statement accompanying the release of the report, from UCT Council Chair Norman Arendse, stressed that the once-divided Council had agreed that the report was both “substantively” and “procedurally” fair.

The statement included an unreserved apology from the current Council, which recognised the truth of the panel’s conclusion that “had the Council at the time fulfilled its governance role as required, the events that unfolded and emotional trauma to many individuals could have been avoided”. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Alastair Sellick says:

    One wonders whether UCT will ever recover…
    I truly hope that my Alma Mater will – and indeed, it should.

    • Bill Gild says:

      I very much doubt (…whether UCT will ever recover…).
      From the getgo, Phakeng was a wholly inappropriate person to lead a (formally) excellent university.
      Her narcissism, taken to an extreme, combined with her thinly disguised racism, delivered a body-blow to a university already teetering from Max Price’s surrender to the malignant mobs that terrorized UCT during the years of turmoil.

  • Niek Joubert says:

    And then some people like Thandiwe Ntshinga in her book “Black Racist Bi..h” claim blacka cannot be racist!

    • T'Plana Hath says:

      If you’ve ever wanted to drill a hole into your head using the hammer setting at low speed but are concerned that the experience will be over too soon or not be excruciatingly painful enough – this book is for you! Her towering intellect *solidly* disproves the myth that reading a book cannot make you dumber.

  • Paul Davis says:

    I wonder where rweedle dee and tweedle dumb now get jobs. The only place I can think of them being welcome is in the EFF where behaviour like this is revered!!

    • Paul Zille says:

      Oh please. They will wear these findings like a badge of honour in the market place: two black women vilified and hounded out because of their valiant attempts to transform a white supremacist institution. And there will be plenty of institutions and people clammering to reward them for their efforts. Watch.

  • Iam Fedup says:

    I was an occasional lecturer at UCT, an institution that was world esteemed, and month by month I saw the decline. She should have been fired within weeks, or better still, never given the job in the first place. When will we stop appointing absolute incompetents into our organisations? It also happens in many private organisations who pander to the dismal ANC demands.

    • Ed Rybicki says:

      I think that after Max Price and the various “Must Fall” debacles, no-one else wanted the job – so she was these as DVC and they felt compelled to ask her to apply. The rest is history.

  • Brian Cotter says:

    Mmmmm Ramaphosa appoints Phakeng to national orders advisory council. 16 April 2023
    National orders are the highest awards the president bestows to “eminent” South African and foreign nationals. Phakeng, who recently parted ways with UCT, is a recipient of the Order of the Baobab, which she received in 2016.
    I would hope Cyril reviews this cadre based award especially when Siya Kolisi shows South Africa how racial team works by not being an issue.

  • Sydney Kaye says:

    So you appoint a person knowing that she is so unfit for the position that she needs a mentor, but do so because she has not one but two of the only necessary qualifications required; black and female.
    Transnet, now identified as the biggest risk to the SA economy did the same as did the President whose black/female appointees are amongst the most egrariously incompetent and dishonest of them all.

    • D'Esprit Dan says:

      Not to mention the City of Joburg, under siege from the appointment of wholly unsuitable mayors, with Premier Panyaza Lesufi telling us on the one hand that Gwamanda is the best person for the job (he wasn’t even considered the best person for the job in his own three-person party two months before that!) and then that he would be given ‘advisors’ to help him through being mayor: if you’re not good enough, you’re not good enough, simple; and who is paying for these – patently useless – advisors? Should come out of Lesufi’s personal pocket, like the judgement against useless Aaron Motsoaledi who for the second time as Home Affairs Minister has pleased ignorance of key issues in his portfolio! Then again, he did wreck the health ministry before moving on, so no surprises there.

    • Penelope Meyer says:

      Black and female do not necessarily mean incompetent and dishonest. Thuli Madonsela and Mpho Phalatse and many others I personally know in positions of leadership. I really hope we get to a day when we just talk about competent and incompetent people. Lets not meet Phakeng’s overt racism with our own.

      • Kanu Sukha says:

        Correct … and remember before Thuli, there was Mamphela Ramphele also ! Mamphela was of my generation, but as for Mpho .. I have no personal knowledge .

  • . . says:

    And what about her exit package? Any chance this can be retroactively cancelled and recovered?

    Will there be any censure to the council or will they continue to hold leadership roles ?

  • Henry Coppens says:

    This just one of many instances whether by design, sloth, incompeternce, or dishonesty that play into the ANC’s NDR plans. A ‘western’ type university where free thought and expression should be its mantra, is not somthing that fits into the NDR’s socialist/communist plan for an elite that is unaccountable with an absence of democracy, and where these atributes including theft and looting are rewarded.

    • Johann Olivier says:

      Mr. Coppens. Please stop with the socialist/communist line. Whether these folks are or are not, is not relevant. They ARE criminals … pigs at the trough. The ascribing of political affiliations simply gives them credibility & credit. In addition, socialist does NOT equal communist. You might want to cancel your next European trip, lest you come in contact with some well-run socialist countries.

      • Ed Rybicki says:

        The number of people who immediately start banging an anti-ANC drum whenever ANYTHING happens is ridiculous! In this case, there was cadre deployment, and no overt political affiliation on behalf of any of the folk being investigated. So well said!!

  • Carsten Rasch says:

    There should be consequences not only for the institutional destruction caused by individuals in leadership positions, but also for the ones appointing them. Too often these decisions are made on the basis of race and political affiliation and not the qualifications and suitability of candidates.“Mistakes” like this has not only destroyed a once glorious university, but continues to affect every level of business, government and society in general.

    • Ed Rybicki says:

      Yee-ah, that boat has sailed. The last but TWO Chair of Council was responsible, despite Max Price apparently warning him not to appoint. Plus, it’s not a crime to appoint an unsuitable person – merely a grave error in judgement.

  • patrick.pitcher says:

    Is it possible to put her in jail? For a long time?

  • Middle aged Mike says:

    Mark me down as neither shocked nor surprised. So long as we continue to appoint people to positions for reasons other than excellence we are doomed to continue our decline.

  • Richard Bryant says:

    I guess she has all the qualities to be elevated to parliament with the EFF.


    This is just pure abuse of power and position,while we have an education crisis these so called leaders were intrested in personal vandetas and purges.Sies!!!

  • Amanda Simpson says:

    Cry my alma mater!!! I am hopeful the ship will right! There are still amazing people there doing awesome things!! Shame on you Mamokgethi Phakeng andBabalwa Ngonyama. The fact that you were so overtly an utterly racist in your dealings with OTHER WOMEN white honestly makes me feel physically ill!!! RIZE UCT

  • Richard Robinson says:


    As a graduate of UCT, I would like to know if our R12-million will be claimed back by UCT?

  • Ivan Steenkamp says:

    Verifying my account

  • Lee Richardson says:

    Well if ever UCT got what they deserved, this is frameable! Playing with fire is fun until it isn’t

  • Rob Alexander says:

    Ju-Ju should offer her EFF membership. She’ll fit in perfectly

  • Rae Earl says:

    This is a prime example of what happens as a result of Cyril Ramaphosa’s ongoing insistence of cadre deployment. The man has become a major threat to the well being of South Africa. His disgusting sucking up to the Boks in France is a graphic manifestation of his lack of any of the qualities required in any sortb of leadership roll. UCT has felt that to it’s detriment.

  • Llewellyn Lloyd says:

    This is not good for UCT

  • Willem Boshoff says:

    The report’s findings is damning; surely this warrants further reporting on the root cause of getting such incompetents appointed in the first place. “Transformation targets” is too easily made the culprit whereas I have a suspicion the “revolutionaries” successful targeting institutions of higher learning greatly enhances a certain caliber of person’s chances to occupy key roles. One has to consider the outsized influence the EFF has on our campuses. The narratives pushed is around “decolonization”, “(white) privilege”, “exclusion”, “transformation”, “whiteness” etc. Underlying this an aggressive and toxic African nationalism whereby dismantling anything that can be classified as “white” or “colonial” – no matter how tenuously – is the main goal.

    • Grumpy Old Man says:

      Excellent point Willem; her appointment cannot be divorced from the Fees Must Fall Campaign & as you say the dominance of the EFF at SRC level. Indeed, Mr Malema went so far as to say that anyone opposing her appointment was anti-transformation. The problem is not activism per se – the problem is that University’s have become battlegrounds where education has become secondary to the pursuance of a political agenda. We see exactly the same modus operandi in the interviews & selection of Judges. Standards will inevitably fall by the wayside when they are no longer considered primary to an institutions proper functioning. What happened at UCT is not isolated; there are 6 or 7 of our University’s who received qualified audits & one only has to look at Unisa & Fort Hare to understand how our institutions of higher learning are being deliberately re-purposed

      • Jacques Otto says:

        Student representative councils should be banned from universities. They have all been highjacked by political parties. Student bodies were never meant to represent a political belief. They are meant to represent all students. Today they however divide a place of learning. As long as it exists, it will be weaponized…

        • Ed Rybicki says:

          We now have ANOTHER EFF “Student Command” dominated SRC at UCT – with an election from only 30% of registered students. We ought to makeANY election for the SRC invalid if <70% of students vote: that would handily get rid of student representation, because they’re too uninterested to vote 😁

  • Agf Agf says:

    How this dreadful woman got appointed to this position in the first place just boggles the mind. A few good psychometric tests would have quickly revealed her shortcomings and excluded her. Instead she was appointed as a supposedly useful BEE candidate and wreaked havoc on this once proud institution.

  • Absolutely horrifying to read. some people should not be given any positions of power

  • Hermann Funk says:

    Let’s not forget the positive aspect of this very sad situation. In many countries, the result of this investigation would have been swept under the carpet. In others, there may not even have been an investigation. It is a pity that South Africans are not using these strengths, a free press, people allowed to express their opinions and alike.

  • Tumi Mothibedi says:

    According to several research articles, South Africa is not running short of knowledgeable brilliant and talented individuals. Our Achilles heel is the issue of character, moral and ethical transformation across all divides. We are a nation that knows a lot, but puts very little of what we know into practice and tangible outcomes. The moral regeneration movement (MRM) has a long way to go still.

  • Jen Pow says:

    Is it any wonder that senior figures at UNISA were so overjoyed when they heard she’d got UCT job?
    There was even talk of sending UCT senior mgt a case of bubbly 🍾

  • Ed Rybicki says:

    Jesus. H!! I knew we had a problem, but I didn’t quite know how much of one. This is what happens when leadership is subverted by having the top-ranking folks to whom such things should be reported – VC and Chair of Council, AND Deputy Chair, apparently – all complicit in pushing a very murky agenda.

    Living at UCT in the last couple of years has been hard, watching and wondering which capable person in management is the next to go: a good example is hearing that the early retirement of the head of HR “was to enable transformation”, when she was a Muslim woman!

    At least the bleeding has stopped: our Registrar stayed (although the COO still went), and others who were trending towards leaving have not. But who would want to take on the VC job at UCT now?? Thank the deities that someone with the gravitas of my former Dean, the retired Daya Reddy, was around to step and steady the ship.

    Let’s just hope it can stay sailing!!

    • Bill Gild says:

      UCT will not “stay sailing”. It has taken on so much water, and not due solely to Phakeng, that it is barely afloat.

      • Billy Gildy says:

        What other reasons do you think are responsible for it barely staying afloat?

        • Bill Gild says:

          Rampant “woke’ism”, Max Price’s genuflecting before the mobs that terrorized UCT for 3 years, and a number of faculty who facilitated the (failed) transformation of a once-proud university. Not least, though, the overt racism, at the faculty and entry levels, that ensures that the best and brightest are votig with their feet – to US and overseas.

  • rob79 says:

    How is it possible that you do such a terrible job , and get rewarded with R12 000 000 !!!

  • T MC says:

    Referring to this blight of a woman as a narcissist is being abundantly kind. She may have a reasonable IQ but zero EQ and in this day and age it’s EQ that matters in roles of effective leadership. Phakeng’s behaviour is nothing short of sociopathic. This is what makes her so dangerous. Anyone who hires her will find this out soon enough. She cares not a jot for anyone but herself and seems to delight in maligning and materially harming others. Phakeng is an insult to women and, more particularly, black women in leadership. She is not representative of the many remarkable women, of all races, who have deservedly secured positions of leadership in industry and academia through sheer merit and determination. To not take this matter further, after the independent panel’s report has been laid bare for all to see, will be a dereliction of duty that UCT should want to avoid. Everyone is watching. Donors also.

  • Alpha Sithole says:

    Yet another example of incompetence at the highest level. Another of our best institutions which has been undermined by pathetic leadership. Who/ what is next…?

  • sapientem victor says:

    An old Latin saying: “ancilla manere cum culina opus”

  • Bhekinkosi Madela says:

    It is encouraging that then UCT Ombud Zetu Makamandela-Mguqulwa did not fall for Phakedi’s race bating, “differing” that interaction with Visser was essentially benign. The environment at the university was thoroughly suffocating.

  • Hilary Morris says:

    As one formerly associated with UCT, both as staff and then student, my heart breaks for an institution I loved dearly and that embodied all that was good and promising in South Africa at the time. How in God’s name do these truly vile people keep being appointed in places where they have no business being? The ANC showed the quickest slide in history from liberation movement to utterly appalling government. Disgusting beyond belief! And the rest of the country complicit for fear of being labelled racist! Hard to hope for a better future.

  • Malcolm Mitchell says:

    Unfortunately the problem is not confined to UCT alone as media reports testify. UNISA is the latest example. The problem at the administrative level has unfortunately had an influence in the academic sphere as well. As a person with some involvement in universities, post graduate degrees at four different universities two of which are Ph.D.s and occasional lecturer and thesis examiner as well as rating one university faculty for its ability to enable its students to be professionally registered in my field it is my opinion that overall the academic sector is also suffering. As an example my nephew and his wife both with Ph.D.s were compelled to seek employment overseas because of racial preferences in promotion. They both secured posts at Oxford university in England!! In the university I was involved in the academic standard has noticeably dropped and the faculty in question was only “provisionally” found to be competent to produce students of a registerable quality. This does not say that quality is dropping across the board, and there are areas which still remain of a high quality but in some areas it is dropping fast. This trend needs to be looked at by the ministry of higher education.

  • Jen Pow says:

    No wonder UNISA was overjoyed when she moved to UCT

  • Nonnie Oelofse says:

    WOW….This woman sounds like Satan’s sister…..🙈🙈🙈🙈

  • Billy Gildy says:

    Why exactly was this woman paid off with a golden handshake?

  • isak arnold niehaus says:

    Does corruption know no bounds? How does UCT justify the R12 million golden handshake to Phakeng in a country where children are starving?

  • Anton van Niekerk says:

    Did anyone at UCT explain to her that the job involved more than being black and a woman? The country’s universities are collapsing like the SOE’s and for the same reason.

  • Suzbox800 says:

    My mother was secretary to the SRC at University of Cape town for many years. She later was secretary to the Vice Chancellor till her retirement at around 1985.
    I spent many a happy time during school holidays on The UCT campus doing odd jobs for different departments for a small remuneration.
    I am saddened to see that this great institution has been so dragged through the mud in recent years.

  • Jeff Bolus says:

    How on earth did she survive for so long ???

  • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

    My wife used to be a recruitment head-hunter for many years. Her targets were for corporate roles, in the main senior and executive, and exclusively for black females. I cannot tell you how many times, over dinner, she would be in tears telling me how inspired she had been that day by someone new she had met that day. She would relay that person’s journey of overcoming adversity in order to achieve excellence. Our country is literally blessed, to overflowing, with an abundance of extraordinary people. Why is it that that the rotten apples find their way to the top of the pile?

  • Hello There says:

    Sounds like the characteristics of a covert narcissist: struggling with power hierarchies that are ‘stacked’ against the narcissist, who harbors visions of grandiosity that are wickedly suppressed by malicious actors; a hypersensitive ‘snowflake’ that whithers at the slightest resistance or when criticism is expressed, in turn lashing out to diminish or attack the ‘oppressor’…

  • James Harrison says:

    Some of my embarrassment at being a UCT graduate and ex-member of staff has been ameliorated – thank heavens.

  • How did they allow someone to get away with such bad behaviour for 4 years!

    • T MC says:

      I suspect Phakeng presented herself as feisty but reasonable to the outside world but in reality she was divisive and hostile towards people who felt intimidated and insecure about losing their jobs. She played the game. Plus she had backing from the chairwoman who is equally culpable here. Phakeng must have felt invincible – until she didn’t.

  • Matshidiso Makholwa says:

    I can’t believe what I have just read. Mamokgethi Phakeng, really, how can she stoop this low?

  • Odin Escocia says:

    Hopefully, criminal action, if possible, will follow.

  • Koggel Mander says:

    Every institution gets its Cloudy Motsoeneng…….

  • Robin Kemp says:

    Another great SA institution in ruins.

  • Odin Escocia says:

    Criminal actions and a return of the 12 Million is crucial

    • Ed Rybicki says:

      Oh, wait, law suits are coming! From She Who Was Feared – and, hopefully, from some of the staff who were illegally dismissed / coerced into leaving.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options