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Africa University staffer resigns after investigation

 

 

The Africa University choir performs during a 2006 U.S. tour. Choir director Benon Kigozi (front right) has resigned after being suspended over allegations of sexual misconduct and sexual harassment. A UMNS file photo by Suzy Keenan. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Linda Green*
April 24, 2007 | OLD MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS)

A staff member of Africa University has resigned following an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct toward female students and women related to the university.

 

 

 Benon Kigozi

Benon Kigozi, the school's music lecturer and choir director, resigned April 23 after being suspended April 14 by the executive committee of the university's Board of Directors.

Findings of an independent investigation had been presented to the committee during the board's annual meeting April 12-14.

The board guides policy and overall development of the private, pan-African and United Methodist-related university, located nearly 11 miles outside Mutare, Zimbabwe's fourth largest city.

Allegations and complaints had been lodged against Kigozi over a two-year period, prompting the board's executive committee in November to authorize the investigation.

"The allegations that were received cover both sexual harassment and sexual misconduct," said Vice Chancellor Rukudzo Murapa, adding that the university's policy and position on sexual harassment is "very clear."

"We will not allow, we will not tolerate sexual harassment, particularly one that takes place between the students and staff," he said. "We will not tolerate that and will take the sternest action. We are guided by our rules and regulations and the laws of (Zimbabwe) to follow certain procedures."

“We at Africa University take seriously the issues and allegations of sexual harassment.”
–Rukudzo Murapa, vice chancellor

The investigator, who is a member of The United Methodist Church and also a local magistrate, presented her findings to university officials, legal counsel and the board's executive committee.

Murapa called it "a disturbing report."

"It was clear that this was a serious allegation and we had to act on it promptly," said Bishop Marcus Matthews, the board's vice president. "The board, along with the university administration, took immediate steps to protect the students and all others involved."

Matthews said it is critical that the board and administration "provide a safe space at the university for these young people."

Speaking with United Methodist News Service, Kigozi said he resigned because "for the last few years I have been victimized and defamed by my supervisor," who is a woman.

 

 

Bishop Marcus Matthews addresses members of the Africa University Board of Directors. A UMNS photo by Linda Green. 

"The allegations are not true at all," he said. "I have never, never had sex with any student, not at all."

Murapa said the magistrate cannot take legal action against Kigozi, but that the complainants or alleged victims can.

"The magistrate carried out this investigation, not in her capacity as magistrate, but in her capacity as an independent assessor acting on (my) request," he said. "Her opinion is not a legal opinion. It is simply her findings and therefore using university procedures, those findings became the basis for a disciplinary hearing."

Because Africa University is a church-related institution, Murapa conveyed to the entire United Methodist Church that "we at Africa University take seriously the issues and allegations of sexual harassment. We are committed to routing it out from our campus and will take appropriate action whenever we receive a complaint."

*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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Resources

Africa University

United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry

Commission on Status and Role of Women

Mutare, Zimbabwe

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