by Zimasa Mpemnyama and Litaletu Zidepa
The Wits SRC has responded to the recent suspensions of seven students by the Wits University Council last night. The Economic Freedom Fighters have also responded arguing the situation is unfair.
Student Representative Council (SRC) president Shaeera Kalla has condemned the Wits University Council’s decision to suspend seven students as well as the Wits Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) as a recognised club and society.
Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela, Kalla said that most, but not all, of the seven students suspended were members of the Wits EFF.
Kalla said the actions of the council amounted to student victimisation. “The process of identifying students who have breached code of conducts and then taking disciplinary action against them has been unjustifiably fast tracked by the VC [Vice Chancellor Adam Habib] and this is unacceptable,” she said.
“The VC has suspended seven students with immediate effect a month before exams, this affects their academics and this is an academic institution.”
Kalla criticised the consistency of the university in dealing with matters of misconduct around Tuesday’s SRC debate which descended into a brawl.
“Some organisations who were involved have not been demonized the way in which the EFF has and this is against every principle of accountability, responsibility and transparency,” she said.
Speaking to news channel eNCA earlier today, Wits EFF member Anele Nzimande said that the university used the personal Twitter accounts of Wits EFF members for the investigation which she said was unfair because, “they put a target on your back and they come after you”.
Kalla also commented on the processes of investigation the university used: “The VC cannot decide when he wants to fast track processes and when he wants to follow due process, an investigation into the matter and the extenuating circumstances of how it actually happened must roll out before any judgement is carried out and extrajudicial processes should not be used as is the case here.”
Nzimande also said the university was hypocritical over matters of “rules, law and authority” and accused it of violating labour law in relation to workers in the Matrix and Campus Control.
“Wits has this moral high ground that they are law abiding citizens, they follow the rules and they can judge when students are deviating from the rules, when they are not following the law themselves,” she told ENCA.
In an official statement released by EFF acting national spokesperson, Fana Mokoena, the party said it was suspicious of the timing of the suspensions, suggesting they were the result of political interference. “We also know that the university is being controlled by politicians who are determined to kill the EFF and its footprint from the university. It is not the first time this apartheid university has mistreated our members.” Read the full statement here.
Wits EFF secretary Mbe Mbhele took to Twitter to voice out his dismay at their suspension, “First thing I thought of when I was told to vacate the university is my mother. My suspension reminded me that SA is a fatherless nation.”
The EFF’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said on Twitter: “When a university casts a critical student out, it only shows it has lost an argument, refused its duty to educate; thus has failed society.”
The council said in the statement that the university is still investigating the matter.
Wits Vuvuzela, STORIFY: Mixed reactions to student suspensions at Wits, August 22, 2015
Wits Vuvuzela, Timeline: the SRC campaign so far, August 22, 2015
Wits Vuvuzela, SRC debate investigated, August 21, 2015