|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, 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.
"The allegations are not true at all," he said. "I have never, never had sex with any student, not at all."
Bishop Marcus Matthews addresses members of the Africa University Board of Directors. A UMNS photo by Linda Green.
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 email@example.com.
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