Muthambi’s TUT bulldoze
Communications Minister Faith Muthambi bulldozed her way into a journalism master’s class at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), despite being twice refused entry by management. City Press has learnt that TUT vice-chancellor Professor Lourens van Staden and his senior management advised Muthambi twice that she did not meet the requirements for the qualification. But she continued to attend classes, even though she was not registered.
Muthambi attended class for the first time this year on February 4. The university communicated with her in writing on February 8, advising her of the outcome of her application and explaining that nonregistered students were not permitted to attend these classes.
The university then brought this to the attention of the relevant authorities and Van Staden sent her another letter explaining the institution’s predicament.
Muthambi again attended the class on February 25, and on February 27, she was again advised in writing by the vicechancellor that her application to enrol for the MTech in journalism did not meet the requirements stipulated in the TUT prospectus, and therefore could not be approved.
According to the university, Muthambi did not have a previous qualification in journalism or journalism training, as set out in the prospectus.
However, her spokesperson, Mish Molakeng, said Muthambi had a law degree and her application to enrol for the MTech programme was submitted through normal processes.
“Allegations that the minister received special treatment are false,” he said.
When asked whether Muthambi was still attending classes in spite of the university’s letters of refusal, Molakeng said his initial response was “sufficient”.
The reasons for her persisting to be part of the institution remain unclear. There is also no clarity on whether Muthambi will continue attending classes without the university’s consent.
TUT spokesperson Willa de Ruyter confirmed that Muthambi applied to enrol for an MTech degree in journalism.
She said the minister was told that she did not qualify, adding that management would continue to engage with Muthambi “to find an amicable solution”.
The institution made two proposals for her consideration to read for a master’s degree in the School of Business, where she could have been accommodated, but Muthambi has yet to respond.
“No preferences can be given. We cannot bend the rules. We treat everyone equally and fairly to maintain the credibility of institution,” said De Ruyter.
De Ruyter emphasised that Muthambi was currently “not a registered student at TUT” under their journalism course. However, she added, the university was honoured that she had chosen their school of journalism to further her studies.
“We will continue to engage with her in finding a suitable qualification – depending on admission requirements – for her to enrol for study at TUT in future,” she said.
Some TUT students told City Press that they were informed late last year of there being insufficient space and supervisors to facilitate the journalism MTech degree.
They said they were surprised to see the university making exceptions for the minister “due to her political influence”.
City Press approached TUT and asked for clarity about placements. TUT insisted it approached every application fairly.
“We even offered to pay for supervisors or hire them from our own pockets,” said a concerned student, who asked not to be named for fear of being victimised.
“Our proposal was turned down. The university sacrificed students in favour of Muthambi. It wanted to attract highprofile people because she managed to get space, but she has not studied anything to do with journalism except for law.”
Muthambi holds a B.Proc degree (1996) from University of Venda. It was phased out in 2001 and replaced by an undergraduate LLB degree.
A student who has attended two classes with Muthambi said she was quiet in class and often wore ANC regalia. “She does not show any emotions in class, even when there is a political example made using the ANC, no matter how controversial the subject. She keeps quiet.
“Maybe she does not want to outshine others. She sits in the front row and takes pictures with students who request it ... She often hugs, kisses and has small conversations with students.”
TUT Student Representative Council member MJ waka Azania confirmed that students faced the challenge of limited space because “the university has been saying there are no supervisors”.
He said he would meet with the head of department, Dr Lizette Odendaal, to get more details about the situation.
Odendaal referred questions to De Ruyter.
STAYING THE COURSE Communications Minister Faith Muthambi seems determined to secure herself a journalism degree