Dean of beleaguered UKZN med school steps down

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The dean of the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine has stepped down, reports the Sunday Tribune.

This comes almost two weeks after the university’s Student Representative Council (SRC) embarked on strike action, demanding that Professor Richard Hift be removed. They have called for a black dean to be appointed to allow for transformation at the university.

UKZN spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka confirmed Hift had stepped down. But, the report says, he denied it was due to the recent turmoil at the medical school, but rather because Hift had other commitments.

In an e-mail sent by the university, the deputy vice-chancellor and head of the college of health sciences, Professor Rob Slotow, said: “Hift has stepped aside from the role of dean and head of the school of clinical medicine, where he has made an immense contribution to improving the delivery of the school across the areas of human capital development, knowledge generation and impact on society.”

The report says Hift’s move also comes at a time when the university has been placed under the spotlight for alleged bribery and corruption regarding the sale of sought-after places at the medical school, which the Sunday Tribune exposed in June.

The report says Hift did not respond to queries at the time of going to print.

After the allegations of corruption in the enrolment process, the university’s executive management appointed independent forensic auditors KPMG to investigate. “The university is committed to high standards of ethical behaviour, integrity and upholding the rule of law. Acts of fraud, bribery and other corrupt behaviour will not be tolerated in any of the university’s activities. We are appealing to the public to come forward with any information that may assist in the investigations,” the university is quoted in the report as saying.

Full Sunday Tribune report

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