ELEVEN members of the Wits community, including eight SRC members, have been charged for disrupting the performance of an Israeli-born pianist.
“The university can confirm that it has charged 11 members of the Wits community for a possible contravention of the university’s codes of conduct,” read a statement issued by Vice Chancellor Prof Loyiso Nongxa.
SRC Internal Vice President Tokelo Nhlapo said eight of the 11 people are SRC members. Five of those SRC members charged are also part of the executive: President Sibulele Mgudlwa, External Vice President Joy Phiri, Secretary Tasneem Essop, Treasurer Justice Nkomo.
Nhlapo is also a member of the SRC executive and is among those charged.
Nhlapo said members of the Palestinian solidarity movement on campus had also been charged.
Nongxa said the matter would not go before a Student Disciplinary Committee and, instead, senior counsel had been appointed “to chair the hearing, and to carry out all of its functions and to exercise all its powers.”
The vice chancellor said the university did not want to make any judgement about the outcome of the investigations as the legal process needs to take its course.
The disciplinary proceedings are the result of a protest during a March 12 performance by Yossi Reshef, a pianist who was born in Israel. Members of the Progressive Youth Alliance, Muslim Students Alliance, Wits Palestinian Solidarity Committee and the SRC entered the venue singing songs, blowing vuvuzelas and brought the concert to a halt.
Nhlapo said the charges against them were without basis and were “in the interest of racism of Zionism.”
“Not only is the university threatening us with charges but doing so in the interest of racism and Zionism. Legal office has become a political tool in which Nongxa and his cronies can continue to sing and play pianos while Palestinians die,” said Nhlapo.
He claimed the charges had come only after the SRC complained of racial profiling at the concert.
“Only white people were allowed into the venue and our colleague who had bought tickets was not allowed in because she was Indian and presumed Muslim,” said Nhlapo.
He said the protestors had been called names such as “barbarians, terrorists and many other degrading terms by the organisers of the event.”