Rhodes University has appointed advocate Les Roberts as the university’s first ombudsman on a two-year term.
Roberts is the retired provincial director of public prosecutions in the Eastern Cape.
Rhodes University said the ombudsman’s role is to create an appropriate channel for the final resolution of complaints involving stakeholders where the existing university structures and processes are deemed by complainants to be inadequate.
The university emphasised that complainants must exhaust the normal university procedures before involving the ombud. If concerns remain unresolved they may then be referred to the ombud.
“Should it be established that the available university channels have not been thoroughly explored, the ombud will refer complainants back to the university,” Rhodes said.
Should it be established that the available university channels have not been thoroughly explored, the ombud will refer complainants back to the university
It highlighted that the ombud’s office is independent of the university’s structures and is not an agent for the university or any of its structures. The ombud’s office does not aim to replace any of the university’s existing structures.
“On the contrary, it seeks to complement and supplement these structures in the interest of administrative justice,” the university said.
“I would like to see the post finding its feet and establishing itself as a useful tool for ensuring harmonious relationships within the greater Rhodes University community. According to the ombud’s terms of reference, the ombud only becomes involved if all other possible procedures have been exhausted and if an aggrieved party then invokes the ombud’s services,” Roberts said.
Roberts holds a Bachelor of Arts and LLB degrees from Rhodes University. He lectured at the law faculty between 2003 and 2013. After graduating from the university, he worked for the department of justice as prosecutor until he became the Eastern Cape attorney-general in 1993. The title changed to director of public prosecutions in 1998. He retired in 2001.