MAKERERE – Dr. Swizen Kyomuhendo, the Makerere University lecturer caught up in the latest sex-for-marks scandal has suggested he was a victim of a set-up by the student in the middle of the incident, and was so gullible to play along.
Dr. Kyomuhendo, in a statement of defence to the University Investigation Commitee says he regrets the incidents leading to the scandal and says the un-named student had accumulated seven re-takes, six of which were in course units not taught by himself but another Faculty at the College of Humanities.
The student, the under fire lecturer says, later passed his paper in February 2017 with 50 percent marks.
“There were no marks to be awarded for sex,” Dr. Kyomuhendo writes in his defence.
“I am deeply hurt by the NBS story. My family, entire community and, doubtless, the University have suffered heavy damage too,” he writes.
“The risk of losing my job at Makerere is least of my worries. Exonerated or not by the Investigative Committee of the University, my life may never be the same again,” he writes.
Dr Kyomuhendo was on March 1 suspended from university service after an NBS Television expose` left him in a compromising state with the un-named female student troubled with her marks she needed to graduate on time.
The expose` indicated the beleaguered university lecturer had suggested meeting the student in a hotel room.
Makerere has appointed a Commitee to investigate the matter.
Below is Dr. Swizen Kyomuhendo’s statement of defence:
Following a story run on NBS Television on the night of the 26th of February 2018, the media, both mainstream and social, has been awash with alleged sexual harassment of a female student. Makerere University has since suspended me from work to allow further investigations.
It is on the basis of this, that I respond as I do hereunder;-
- The events surrounding the entire incident have been largely portrayed out of context and to a larger extent manipulated to make sensationalized news by the media. The alleged girl in question was indeed a student who had taken two courses that I happen to teach at the University. She had failed and repeated them, along with five other retakes in courses taught by other staff. She had sat the last of my courses in February 2017, passed with 50% and her marks submitted to the School of Social Sciences for entry.
- During December 2017, the student made several attempts to see me. I always insisted that the meetings should take place at my University office. This can be proven from the alleged telephone conversation that the investigators of the media recorded “… Please for information about the results, come to Makerere…” Whereas the student was heard in the recorded investigative report insisting to meet me outside the University, I maintained my stand and indeed we met as per the first segment of the video clip at office. She complained of missing marks I had long submitted. I explained to her that cases of missing marks on the online platform were a general problem affecting hundreds of other students due to system challenges along the chain of submission, approval and entry. I advised her to wait but also keep checking online.
- Though not indicated in the television footage, the student then presented herself as person who also works with a large solar company and was suggesting if I could purchase some of her products. She had told me that, on appointment, she would come along, or send the other technical and sales people in the business since I had expressed interest in buying the products she alleged to sell. From the conversation that ensured at office, the student kept on insisting to meet me at a place outside the University, for the sake of company colleagues, so I could drive them to my premises for assessment and billing. She explained that they, too, were busy people, in the field most of the time.
- It is on the basis of this that I directed the student to my private business place where I usually sit in silence, sometimes spend several days doing my work. I was gullible, and was made to believe that she would direct her business colleagues. After several calls by herself and purported colleagues in the solar company, the student turned up alone. Her statements were scattered; she appeared tensed up and repeated her request to be helped with her marks. At this point, I felt unduly disturbed and took time to offer counseling. The audiovisual clip by NBS television clearly reveal how I explained to the student that I would never take advantage of anyone and advised her to never be taken advantage of. She apologized and left.
- On the next working day following this incident, I talked to my Dean, School of Social Sciences, who, on crosschecking on his own computer confirmed that the student’s marks had been received months back and was part of the backlog cases pending entry online at the central office in Senate building. The Dean offered to personally join his Secretariat to expedite entry of missing marks. I loudly complained to my Dean and also alerted staff colleagues about the anxiety institutional delays were causing. I particularly narrated the intrusive behavior of this student. I saw no merit in formally reporting a student who appeared restless, unkempt and deeply worried about her graduation. She had done retakes in seven other courses over five years for a three year program.
- It is after a few days that I received the rude telephone call from a one Raymond of NBS TV and was able to put the pieces together.
- I deeply regret the fact that I was duped into a ploy to discredit my credibility and for such an error of judgment I am sincerely apologetic and remorseful.
- Despite the above explanations, I still believe that I should have been more careful to avert such unfortunate events. I am deeply hurt by the NBS story. My family, entire community and, doubtless, the University have suffered heavy damage too.
- I categorically deny any allegations tantamount to sexual harassment. There were no marks to be issued for sex as alleged by NBS television. She was never awarded 49% or 4% at any time. Besides, I do not see myself engaged in any audible conversation with the character for most of this footage. Wherever my voice comes out in the television footage, I appear to be the victim of undue intrusion. To me, this is a case of the hunted turned into the hunter. The motives are only known to those who spent their energy and resources to manufacture this deceptive movie.
- The University Management should take time to understand the changing dynamics among sections of the student population, and the politics and economics of the media. The risk of losing my job at Makerere is least of my worries. Exonerated or not by the Investigative Committee of the University, my life may never be the same again.
- I hope my humble response puts the unfortunate events in a clear perspective.
- I have also opted not to disclose the identity of my student, and I appreciate the decision of NBS television for the anonymous, blurred image of the student to the public. In my view, she is either a victim of those who poorly couched and wired her up, or those outside the media, who are playing and spending clandestinely to bring me down.
Swizen Kyomuhendo PhD