Professor’s suspected killers in the dock
THE case against two men accused of murdering University of Zululand (Unizulu) Professor Gregory Kamwendo (53), has been postponed to 12 December for bail applications.
Selby Nkuna (49), a former Unizulu and University of KwaZulu-Natal employee, and his co accused Oscar Mthiyane (50), believed to be the hired hit man, appeared in the Empangeni Magistrate’s Court on Monday morning on murder charges.
They were arrested after months of hard work by Empangeni detectives following the fatal shooting of Kamwendo in May.
Nkuna was arrested in Empangeni and Mthiyane in Dundee last Thursday.
They will remain in custody until their next appearance.
Unizulu has in the meantime refuted ‘unfounded allegations’ that Kamwendo, a Malawian national, had uncovered a PhD degree fraud syndicate, which could have been the motive for his murder.
The allegations surfaced in a report by the Sowetan, which alleged that Nkuna hired Mthiyane for R10 000 to kill Kamwendo.
In a statement published on its website, Unizulu noted that ‘the ongoing reports on the murder of Kamwendo, who was the Dean of Arts at Unizulu, are unfortunate as they have distorted vital facts of the matter.
‘We have noted with shock that speculation and pre-emptive arguments are widespread on the motive of the murder.
‘Yet the law enforcement investigators of the case have not made any public statement on the motive of the killing.
‘The university therefore distances itself from such speculation and ill-informed views which are aimed at denting the reputation of both
Professor Kamwendo and this institution.’
In May the ZO reported that a source, who knew Kamwendo personally, said he had held back a number of postgraduate students.
‘He was seen as making his own rules and that angered many at times,’ the source said.
‘Before graduation there was some anger I picked up after some postgraduate students’ work had been held back as it didn’t meet the criteria. Kamwendo believed they would be declined at higher degree level.’
Unizulu responded by saying: ‘During the endorsement period for students who qualify or not for graduation purposes (in 2017 and 2018), the Higher Degrees Committee and Senate discovered that some of the presented dissertations were found not to comply with the policy imperatives.
‘Therefore management (including Prof Kamwendo) diligently applied the University of Zululand’s policies that govern and regulate quality assurance, as well as the integrity of its postgraduate administration, supervision and the eventual graduation of these candidates.
‘In this process it became clear in certain instances that some of the presented dissertations/theses had procedural and quality shortcomings.
‘The implication of this exercise resulted in disciplinary processes being instituted against the perpetrators, who happened to be the supervisors and academic staff of the university,’ the university statement said.
‘Unfortunately, it has become the norm that when perpetrators who have connections in higher places are disciplined by management, the blame is shifted to management, who is accused of maladministration and victimisation of staff.
‘It is these disruptive tendencies that continue to undermine the management of Unizulu internally and nationally.
‘It is the view of the university that Professor Kamwendo could have been a victim of this continuation of undermining the leadership through mafia tendencies, hence his tragic assassination and untimely death.
‘The university urges that the case should be allowed to follow all due processes without misrepresentations and fabrication of facts.
‘We denounce the tendency of when people are subjected to university legal processes, they resort to alternate disruptive strategies of blackmailing and undermining the integrity of the institution and the processes.
‘This time around we refuse to be silenced and intimidated at the expense of the great loss of our esteemed professor.
‘It is unfortunate that the desire to restore and uphold excellence at the University of Zululand has been a burden for some, and Professor Kamwendo was one of those who bore the brunt.
‘The university wishes to honour the late Professor Kamwendo as a trusted and committed scholar who held the university’s integrity in the highest regard.
‘We honour his legacy and unwavering commitment to quality education,’ the statement read.
Professor Gregory Kamwendo