A former lecturer at the University of the Free State plans to take the university to the Constitutional Court

Former Faculty of Law lecturer Advocate Loyiso Makapela, who is being sued for R800 000 by the university, says the institution is using the lawsuit to intimidate her after she took it to task over her salary and unfair treatment. She became the youngest lecturer in the university’s law faculty when she joined the UFS in 2013, and its top-performing academic. However, Makapela claims she was overlooked for a promotion while her less-qualified white colleagues were given senior positions. “At present I’m embroiled in a legal battle with the University of the Free State, one which began three years ago when I discovered I had been appointed to a Junior Level that my white colleagues had never been appointed to. They had merely been automatically promoted upon appointment, regardless of the fact that some of them were less-qualified than I was. Furthermore, my promotion was contested, despite the fact that I was twice as qualified as my white counterparts,” Makapela tells DESTINY. Feeling she was being discriminated against, she laid several complaints against the university, but they yielded no results. “I have laid complaints, questioned and queried the disgusting racial discrimination that resulted in my being appointed to a lower position than other white colleagues. I was ‘bribed’ with the promise of a job in another section of the faculty, and when that did not work, I kept asking uncomfortable questions,” she says. When that failed, she decided to take the matter to the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) and demanded that she be compensated for all the years she spent earning less than her white colleagues. “The university made empty promises in a bid to avoid arbitration, promising settlement amounts etc. I refused as all I seek, and all I have ever sought are justice and reparation,” she says. In June she resigned from the university. “I was threatened, intimidated and treated in such an oppressive nature that I had no choice but to resign effective June 2016 for fear of damage to my mental and emotional well-being,” she says. On Monday, Makapela and representatives of the university met again at the CCMA and the case is still pending as the commissioner needs to consider all the facts of the case. If her CCMA appeal fails, she plans to take her challenge to the Constitutional Court. She hopes the court will set a precedent that will make it illegal for institutions to discriminate against employees along racial lines. “If, as a country, we want free quality education, much of it depends on good quality academics to disseminate that education, and the last thing we need in a country that has a democracy 22 years strong is to be dealing with issues as appalling as being paid up to R10 000 less than white people one is more qualified than,” she says. The university’s lawsuit against her has only strengthened her resolve.

“The university tried to intimidate me further on 26 August 2016, informing me that they had instructed their lawyers to prepare to sue me for R800 000 for the funds they supposedly ‘wasted’ on me by giving me a scholarship to go and complete my second Master’s degree in London in 2014,” she says. 

Makapela believes the university is using the lawsuit as a scare tactic to stop her from continuing her fight against discrimination against black academics at the institution.

In a statement, the UFS denied the allegations, insisting it treated her fairly: “The University of the Free State strenuously denies the inaccuracies and misrepresentation about the case of Adv Loyiso Makapela in the social media. As the case is sub judice and pending at the CCMA, the UFS can unfortunately not comment on the merits thereof except to state that the university, including its Faculty of Law, will emerge as having treated Adv Makapela fairly in all respects.

“The UFS remains committed at all times to treating our current and former employees and fellow students fairly in all respects, as will emerge in this case.” 

SOURCE: DestinyMan