Update from Registrar Royston Pillay on cases reported and concluded in 2022:

The University of Cape Town (UCT) regards whistle-blowing as an important tool at the disposal of employees, students and interested third parties to report cases of misconduct, illegal activities or wrongdoing which may be harmful to the operations of the university.

A draft whistle-blowing policy has been developed and it has gone through the preliminary governance process steps ahead of being presented to Council for consideration and approval at its June 2023 meeting. This draft policy document was shared with several internal stakeholders. Once approved by Council, the whistle-blowing policy will replace the 2010 whistle-blowing guidelines currently in place.

The draft whistle-blowing policy outlines, inter alia, the responsibility of different stakeholders, what may be reported, reporting procedures, UCT policy and national legislation on which the draft policy draws, and the various reporting platforms that may be used when reporting cases.

The university remains committed to investigating any case where sufficient information is provided by a whistle-blower, with an outcome provided following the completion of the investigation. The university has contracted Whistle Blowers (Pty) Ltd for external management of the institutional hotline, which is the channel for reporting wrongdoing and potential misconduct.

In some cases, the information provided by a whistle-blower is vague and the allegations made lack detail and relevant information that would be required in order to sustain an investigation. This limits the effectiveness of the hotline and should be borne in mind when cases are reported since the university has to rely on anonymous written reports received from Whistle Blowers (Pty) Ltd after a case has been reported.

For the information of the UCT community, in 2022 the UCT Whistle-Blowing Hotline received a total of 22 unique reports. Below is a summary of some of the cases received:

Case 1

Complaint: Allegations were made by a caller relating to the improper awarding of funding to third-parties or students without following due process.

Outcome: The complaint was investigated, and it was established that an open recruitment process was conducted in line with the university governance arrangements. There was no evidence that funding and disbursement have been made outside of formal processes.

Case 2

Complaint: A caller raised a concern about the alleged poor/illegal conduct of a UCT employee operating a UCT bus shuttle/vehicle.

Outcome: The matter was investigated, and the allegations made by the caller could not be substantiated.

Case 3

Complaint: A caller raised a concern about a UCT employee being employed when they were of retirement age. The caller also raised issues of poor work performance.

Outcome: It was explained that PASS staff retirements at UCT are governed by the university’s retirement policy. In terms of this policy, normal retirement is at the end of the year in which a member turns 65 (rather than by the end of their birth month). As far as staff work performance is concerned, this should be managed through the line management system. Any Human Resources (HR) concerns are to be raised through the HR structures with the department concerned.

Case 4

Complaint: A caller raised a concern about a UCT recruitment process and made allegations of corruption.

Outcome: An investigation confirmed that UCT, with the assistance of an independent response handling company, shortlisted candidates using a meticulous matrix as per the requirements of the advert. The initial shortlisted candidates were called for assessments and were required to perform skills tests which were assessed by a selection committee. The investigation found that UCT has adhered to its recruitment and selection process and no evidence of corruption as alleged was proven.

Case 5

Complaint: A caller raised a concern about voting irregularities relating to student governance matters.

Outcome: An investigation has been completed substantiating the allegations made and management is dealing with the matter in line with the university procedures.

Case 6

Complaint: A university committee was reported for having allegedly misused funds.

Outcome: The matter was investigated and what was alleged was not corroborated. The review of funds also showed that all funding was accounted for and there was no evidence of irregular spending.

On behalf of the university, I thank all concerned for taking whistle-blowing seriously and assisting to protect the processes, policies and assets of UCT. I appeal that where cases are reported, as much information as possible should be provided to assist with the investigation that follows. Investigations are best sustained based on information that is made available.

Please be reminded that the whistle-blowing hotline is not the only tool available and other facilities like the Office for Inclusivity and Change and the HR department (for relevant staffing matters) are also available.

Further information on the whistle-blowing policy and the implementation process will follow after the Council meeting in June 2023.

Further information about the operation of the whistle-blowing hotline is available from the Risk Office director responsible for risk compliance and relationship management at UCT, Shai Makgoba. Departments and faculty groups may request a presentation on the hotline by contacting him on 021 650 2754 or via email.

Royston Pillay
18 May 2023

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