By BO Staff Writer
Another smear campaign has been launched against the Deputy Vice Chancellor and head of Humanities at the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN), Professor Cheryl Potgieter. This time, she is being accused of plagiarism.
The campaign is driven by a journalist, Oliver Meth, who has questionable relationships with the anti-decolonisation forces at UKZN and seems to be assigned the role of watch dog to protect the white Vice Chancellor, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, who has been accused of racism.
Claims of plagiarism against Potgieter have been made in a media story which didn’t follow the most basic journalistic ethics. Potgieter and her colleague, Gregory Kamwendo, who co-authored the said plagiarised essay where not contacted for comment or if they where, their comments were left out because it exposes the distortions in the report. Hearing “the other side” in the narrative is a sacred value of ethical journalism more so when career destroying accusations are made.
Even more curious is the fact that the reporter didn’t want to spoil his smear with any evidence that would be provided by the journal that published the essay in question. Surely if a case of plagiarism has been established then an academic journal should act. It doesn’t seem that the journalist was interested in such inconveniences of good journalism.
The real story behind the campaign against Potgieter is to keep UKZN white and male. The appointment of van Jaarsveld, a white male, after Professor Malegapuru Makgoba’s tenure as vice chancellor was one of the most spectacular reversals of transformation of the university in South Africa.
The attack on Prof Potgieter is calculated to ensure that voices calling for the correction of the injustice of appointing a white man are silenced. The real issue is to tarnish the sterling academic achievements of Professor Potgieter to ensure that a black woman does not ascend into becoming a vice chancellor at UKZN.