A group of students calling themselves Wits Fees Must Fall (FMF) have demanded that vice-chancellor Professor Adam Habib intervenes in the current situation at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).
Earlier this week, the group of about 30 students congregated in the Soloman Mahlangu House concourse, dressed in black and holding up posters showing their solidarity with the UKZN students.
The students refused to be identified or photographed, arguing that they did not want to draw attention to themselves. “This is not about us, this is about the students at UKZN who have been subjected to violence and injustice,” said one of the students.
Despite requests for the vice-chancellor to receive their memorandum of demands, the Dean of Student Affairs, Dr Puleng Lenka-Bula, was on hand to meet the students. The memorandum outlined five demands to the vice chancellor in accordance to the positions he holds as an Impact Champion for the United Nation’s #HeForShe campaign and as chairperson of Universities South Africa and convenor of twenty six Vice Chancellors in South Africa.
The memorandum reads: “We demand that in your capacity as an Impact Champion of #HeForShe and chairperson of Universities South Africa, offer an unconditional apology to the victim of rape crime at UKZN as her rape occurs under the ridiculous and unwarranted presence of private security personnel and police on university campuses.”
“…offer an unconditional apology to all women and victims of sexual harassment at the hands of private security personnel and police deployed on university campuses…and offer direct support to the victim of a rape crime that occurred on the UKZN campus,” it further reads.
“Your unconditional support should ensure that a charge of rape has been laid against her perpetrator and that she is mentally and physically supported throughout the entire ordeal of seeing the case to trail,” it says.
Wits FMF also demand Habib institute a process where norms and standards that address gendered violence be adopted across universities and to end the “unwarranted securitisation and militarisation” of campuses across the country.
The students have given Habib five working days to respond to their demands.
The community of students have given the vice chancellor five working days to respond to their memorandum and have also requested that he give daily feedback on his progress in meeting their requirements.
Dr Lenka-Bula denied at interview with Wits Vuvuzela after accepting the memorandum.
Habib is yet to make a public statement regarding the memorandum.