By BO Staff Writer
The University of KwaZulu Natal wants a public apology and a retraction of an article written yesterday by the Daily Vox alleging that University of KwaZulu Natal’s Deputy Vice Chancellor and head of Humanities, Professor Cheryl Potgieter and a former colleague, Gregory Kamwendo, had plagiarised a paper.
The article claims that Potgieter and Kamwendo “plagiarised work in 21.2 (2014) Humanities, Knowledge Production and Transformation.” They further claim that “plagiarism checking website TurnItIn … indicated that Potgieter and Kamwendo had plagiarised the introduction to a collection, which had the work of at least 12 contributors.”
The poorly researched article then jumps the gun and claims that Potgieter’s credibility as a researcher is now questionable. They say Potgieter and Kamwendo “copied directly from other articles, with only a few ‘filler’ words added to make it appear as if it was written by Potgieter and Kamwendo themselves.”
In a bid to completely destroy Potgieter’s reputation, Daily Vox journalist, Oliver Meth, writes “this [plagiarism] amounts to a serious violation of the university’s plagiarism policy and fraud as both authors accepted funds for the article.”
Had the journalist, and the Daily Vox editorial team, been patient enough, they would have discovered that in the Alternations journal – and indeed in most journals around the world, when guest editors write their introductory editorials, they are allowed to use the abstracts of articles found in the collection in the introduction.
The Daily Vox confuses a peer reviewed article with an editor’s introduction. The writing of an introductory editorial is not the same as a peer reviewed article – which would most likely be found inside the journal and not in the introduction.
The editor of Alternations, Professor Johannes Smit, says the introductory editorial is not credited to the guest editors – which Potgieter and Kamwendo were. The introduction “only serves to provide readers with a concise introduction to the journal issue, so they can decide what to read and what not,” Smit said in an email exchange with Potgieter, UKZN and Daily Vox, which Black Opinion is in possession of.
In the introductory editorial, what the guest editors do is basically summarise all the work in the collected journal. They use the abstracts to write this so that the voice of the original authors are not lost.
“If someone disputes this they need just to consult the best edited books and journals internationally,” Smit added.
The university communicated with Daily Vox alerting them that the “filth” written by Meth was harmful to the university’s reputation and that of Potgieter. The university has rightly said it will have no option but to “ask attorneys to intervene” if Daily Vox refuses to remove the defamatory article.
The uninformed article by Daily Vox highlights the lengths white institutions are willing to go to, to oust vocal black people who challenge those in positions of power. Potgieter is under attack, niy because she plagiarized but because she dared question the racist capitalist system which governs UKZN.
Potgieter confirmed to Black Opinion that she was not approached for comment by the journalist, Meth. A clear sign that the article was a witch hunting exercise.
We shall wait and see if Daily Vox retracts its atrociously unresearched article, or if UKZN will go ahead and ask its lawyers to intervene.