A LECTURER at Lusaka Apex University has denied making sexual advances towards two female pharmacy students with threats that he would make them fail exams if they did not give in to his sexual demands.
Meanwhile, the lecturer has also disowned Apex University saying he has never been employed as a lecturer by the university, claiming that he is a scientist in the faculty of science and Head of Department responsible for technical and laboratory practicals.
This is in a matter where Sandra Mubanga and Carol Saili have dragged their lecturer Philistone Nyirenda and their learning institution to court seeking a declaration that Apex Medical University breached its contractual obligation to provide a conducive learning environment when it failed to consider their complaints of sexual harassment against its employee.
Mubanga and Saili claimed that Nyirenda, a lecturer and Head of laboratory department at Apex, caused them to fail their exams after they refused to have sex with him.
In their statement of claim, Mubanga and Saili claimed that sometime this year, on several occasions, Nyirenda made various sexual advances towards them but they refused to give in to his demands after which he promised and threatened them that they would fail their exams if he did not have sex with them.
But in his defense, Nyirenda denied allegations by Mubanga and Saili that he threatened to fail them if they did not have sex with him as he was not responsible for marking any of the examination scripts as the University Senate was the final decision maker regarding who passes and fails exams.
Nyirenda charged that the two failed examinations because they were not prepared and cannot blame him for their own lack of preparedness.
“The first defendant (Nyirenda) vehemently denies making sexual advances towards the plaintiffs (Mubanga and Saili) and will aver at trial that at no point did he make any sexual advances to the plaintiffs whatsoever. The plaintiffs will be put to strict proof in respect of their baseless allegations,” Nyirenda said.
“At no time did the second defendant threaten to fail the plaintiffs, he is not even responsible for marking any of the examination scripts, in any case the final decision regarding who passed and fails was made by the university Senate”.
Nyirenda affirmed having been assigned to invigilate examinations and said that there was nothing strange about it as this was part of his job like other members of staff.
He also denied accusing the two students of sexual relations with other lecturers to pass exams neither did he conduct a body search on Mubanga and Saili.
Nyirenda said that like other students, steps were generally taken to prevent cheating in the examinations by all the invigilators.
He conceded that Mubanga and Saili reported to the university of their dissatisfaction with the measures that were put in place to avoid examination cheating as they felt they were being targeted.
Nyirenda said he would aver at trial that the plaintiffs were assured that they were not being targeted.
He added that Mubanga and Saili were therefore not entitled to any of the reliefs being sought.
Apex University has also counter sued the students, demanding damages for loss of reputation, and an apology and retraction of the false claims.
It also denied allegations by the students that it breached its contractual obligation to provide a conducive learning environment as well as proper administration of examinations to the two.
The university lamented that the sexual harassment claims had caused its students and general public to lose confidence in it and had brought its business into odium and contempt.