UCT Mamokgethi Phakeng Mayosi

UCT VC Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng. Image: Twitter / University of Cape Town

UCT VC, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, in hot water AGAIN

UCT Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng has been heavily criticised by the late Prof Bongani Mayosi’s sister. Here’s why..

UCT Mamokgethi Phakeng Mayosi

UCT VC Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng. Image: Twitter / University of Cape Town

University of Cape Town (UCT) Vice-Chancellor, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng has been labelled as insensitive and lacking empathy for mentioning the late Professor Bongani Mayosi in one of her tweets. 

Responding to a tweet from a concerned person that had urged the Vice-Chancellor to fight and not give up like Mayosi did in her ongoing battle at UCT, Phakeng responded saying she almost went the “Mayosi route” in 2020. Professor Mayosi was the Dean in the Faculty of Health Sciences at UCT who committed suicide in 2018 after battling depression for two years and experiencing animosity from his colleagues and students.


UCT will launch a probe into the conduct of Phakeng and council chairperson Babalwa Ngonyama as well as other issues related to working relations in the university’s senior leadership team. Phakeng took to social media recently to garner support amid the probe and there have been concerns from social media users about her mental health and many have urged her not to become the next Professor Mayosi.

The late scholar’s sister, Advocate Ncumisa Mayosi slammed Phakeng for mentioning her brother in her tweet saying it is disturbing and displays a total lack of empathy, compassion and emotional intelligence. 

Ncumisa who is not on Twitter said the fact that her brother took his own life does not make the Mayosi name synonymous with suicide which is what the VC seems to understand to be the case. 

“You do this for your own gratuitous reasons, using my brother’s name flippantly to add flavour  to a narrative that concerns you and only you with no regard of my late brother and his legacy or for that matter what may be your very own followers’ mental health concerns and status, and certainly with no consideration for or permission from my late brother’s family. 

“Your references to my brother in this manner are opportunistic and self-serving. You have no right to refer to his name for this end. It is immoral, unethical and quite simply hurtful for you to do so.” 

Adv Ncumisa Mayosi

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There have been mixed reactions to Phakeng’s tweet and the letter Mayosi wrote addressing her concerns. While some have defended both the women, some have also criticised them.

“I’m interested in the person who brought this tweet to ‘lady’ Mayosi’s attention. Much as she has a right to be driven mad by a factual, innocent tweet, I think Prof Phakeng is equally entitled to refer to a historical incident that happened at UCT. Nothing wrong with the tweet,” @Musina_Ndevhe tweeted.

“Prof just shoot from the hip sometimes, suicide is now called the ‘Mayosi route’. The tweet was insensitive but I don’t understand why it is associated with her UCT case,” @LeoThsililo tweeted.

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