A Zimbabwean PhD Candidate at University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa Philip Chuma has reportedly committed suicide after failing to register for the 2022 academic year due to an expired permit.
In a memo to the students the university said Chuma died over the weekend.
Said the university: “His study permit expired in November, and he had been unable to renew it. Home Affairs required the processing of a Letter of Good Cause, which we supplied to him towards the end of last year. Unfortunately, all attempts to request a speedy processing of his documentation were in vain, and this distressed him enormously as he had not been able to register for the 2022 academic year until his documents were in order.”
The university said they had hoped that Chuma’s PhD would be ready for examination later this year.
“He was in regular communication with the Wits International Office, his supervisor and the School Business Manager about the progress of sorting out his documentation. This week, he had put in an application to teach in the US through the Educational Partners International (EPI) programme.”
“Philip has been doing his PhD on the transition of newly qualified teachers into their first teaching position in Zimbabwean schools. He had recently completed his data analysis chapters and was busy working on his Discussion and interpretation of his findings. He presented parts of his work at SAERA and at the LCT International Conferences. It was our hope that his PhD would be ready for examination later this year.”
Commenting on the matter, former Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education Professor Jonathan Moyo said: “Philip Chuma, a PhD candidate at Wits University in Johannesburg, died by suicide over the weekend; in a tragic case that has the evil trappings of the anti-Zimbabwean Afrophobia being pursued by Minister Motsoaledi at Home Affairs. Chuma played by the rules, to no avail. MHSRIP!”
The Zimbabwe Embassy and the Zimbabwe Consulate in South Africa are yet to comment on the matter.