Letter to Wits VC regarding racist accusations against staff

We, the undersigned staff of the Faculty of Health Sciences, strongly condemn the accusation of racism directed at our Faculty Registrar, Mrs. Sandra Benn by the SRC President, Mr. Kefentse Mkhari during his address to the Humanities, Engineering and the Built Environment first year students and their families at the University Welcome Day held on Sunday, 29 January 2017. His accusations are slanderous and damaging to Mrs. Benn on both a personal and professional level. We call on the University to hold Mr. Mkhari accountable for these defamatory comments and to support Mrs. Benn as a valued member of staff during this difficult time. 

Mrs. Benn has served this University with distinction, in various roles, mostly at senior level over the past 30 years, 15 of which in the Faculty of Health Sciences. She goes beyond the call of duty to assist students (regardless of race) - often at great personal cost, for example, providing emergency financial assistance to students in need of clothes, food, accommodation and books. Last year she paid for the hiring of graduation gown for one of the students who could not afford it; she helped to set up a student in residence who arrived at the University with nothing but clothes. She sources funding for students who are unable to graduate/ register due to outstanding fees. These are just a few of the selfless acts she regularly commits to. Mrs. Benn also strongly supports the Faculty's endeavors to widen access to students with academic potential who come from previously disadvantaged backgrounds. 

We all oppose any form of racism and racial discrimination and equally will not tolerate false accusations of racism leveled against any member of staff or student in the Faculty when this is not justified. 

Faculty of Health Sciences staff, University of the Witwatersrand    Contact the author of the petition