A student from Unisa who claimed that a professor at the institution sexually forced himself on her and gave her a sexual disease is claiming R750 000 from the academic.
The 30-year-old student wants another R200 000 in damages from Unisa, saying it did not protect her from the alleged sex pest. According to her, the university did not advise her of her options following her ordeal and failed to deal timeously with her complaint.
The woman said in papers before the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, that she had suffered a psychological breakdown due to her experience and had to be hospitalised. She claimed she was on treatment for the disease she contracted from the man.
Unisa and the professor are defending the claim and have denied any wrongdoing. The professor was subjected to a disciplinary hearing, but it was not stated in court documents what the outcome was. However, it is believed he is still employed at Unisa as the woman referred to him in this regard in her summons and stated which department he worked in.
She explained in the summons that she contacted Unisa in 2014 regarding a novel she had written, which was in draft form at the time. It was recommended to her that the professor should assist her in the structure and grammar of the draft.
She met with the professor in his office where they discussed her book. She said he then offered to take her home as it was raining. Prior to getting into his car, he kissed her and made sexual advances towards her, she said.
When they got to her house, he again kissed her. The woman said she asked him whether he had a condom as she was not going to have unprotected sex. She said the professor assured her he was not going to have full-blown sex with her. But in the heat of the moment, he did penetrate her.
The woman said she pushed him away. She said afterwards he “engaged in conversation with her and left”.
She said she was extremely upset he had failed to disclose to her that he had a transmittable sexual disease, which she also contracted from him. Apart from the humiliation she suffered as she had to be treated, she also feared he might have been HIV-positive. All this caused her to have a breakdown, she said.
Her claim against the professor included R100 000 for past medical expenses, R350 000 for future medical expenses, R50 000 for the sexual infection and R100 000 for her depression.
In her claim against Unisa, she said she approached the office of the vice-chancellor to seek assistance and lodge a complaint of sexual assault. She was referred to the dean of students, who she met at the Sunnyside campus.
She told the dean about her ordeal and the dean told her to prepare a statement. She said the woman did not provide her with any further assistance or advise her to lay a complaint with the police. She told the dean she feared the professor might be HIV-positive. The dean later told her the professor was prepared to have a test done in this regard. However, he later withdrew his consent.
The woman said when nothing was done about her complaints, she again approached the dean a few weeks later. She said the dean promised to refer the matter for a disciplinary hearing, which took months to arrange.
When it eventually happened nearly two years later, the alleged victim asked to give evidence in camera. She said she was made to sit behind a white screen, where she could still see the professor and he could see her. Both the professor and Unisa denied most of the allegations, apart from that the professor and the student “were intimate”.
The case was removed from the roll as it was not yet ready to proceed. The recording of the disciplinary hearing still has to be transcribed.
Credit: Pretoria News