Black professor sues UCT for hiring a "less qualified" white academic

Black professor sues UCT for hiring a "less qualified" white academic

- A UCT professor is taking the university to court claiming that they are racist

- She believes that she was looked over for a less qualified applicant because she was black

- She had launched the court action and is being joined by the Black Academic Caucus

University of Cape Town (UCT) Professor Elelwani Ramugondo is suing the university for hiring a "less qualified" white academic for the position of vice-chancellor for teaching and learning.

The Black Academic Caucus (BAC) is joining her in court. BAC claims that the university did not follow the correct rules when it appointed Professor Lis Lange in December.

Initially the shortlist for the position had five names on it but after three were struck off, Ramugondo and Lange were in competition for the position.

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Ramugondo, a full professor, lost to Lange who is an associate professor. She claims that she was passed over because of the institutional racism that exists at the university.

“This case should not come as a surprise given that the UCT executive themselves have conceded that UCT needs to seriously address transformation.Why else would they agree that the institutional reconciliation and transformation commission be instituted?"

"Institutional racism is a blind spot. Racists within an organisation that is experienced as racist by those who are marginalised, are unable to recognise the problem themselves."

“The diagnosis must be done by an independent body and a court of law is best placed to do this. It is for this reason that I would like for this appointment process to be placed under legal scrutiny.”

Ramugondo has said that court action was a last resort after she exhausted all other avenues of engagement. She revealed that her academic career was at risk if she continued to contest the appointment.

“I have been warned about being labelled a troublemaker and the consequences that come with that for future opportunities.”

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UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola said that the university was unaware of the threat and that Ramugondo should lay a complaint with university structures or police.

The university said that Ramugondo did not meet the requirements, the BAC contests this.

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