The family of a late student activist has asked the university to commemorate his life. 

The family and friends of a Wits University student who was killed in a bombing 30 years ago has asked the institution to award his degree posthumously to recognise his contribution to student activism.

Yusuf Akhalwaya was a student at the Wits School of Education in 1989 but died in his final year before he completing his degree.

Shamim Hargovan, Akhalwaya’s sister told Wits Vuvuzela that her brother was suspended from Wits in 1989 and was not allowed to continue with his final year of studies following a disciplinary process after he was arrested during a protest.

The 23-year-old Akhalwaya then appealed his suspension and on the day of his death, December 11, 1989, his family received a letter confirming his readmission to Wits.

He was killed alongside fellow Lenasia Youth League activist and Cosatu shopsteward Prakash Napier, while carrying a bomb in an Umkhonto we Sizwe operation at Johannesburg Station on December 11, 1989.

The Wits dean of students Jerome September said that the matter of a commemoration was raised with the senior executive team (SET) of the university and he was asked to liaise with the family on the best possible way to mark the 30th anniversary of Akhalwaya’s death.

“This also forms part of the broader conversation around how Wits can best acknowledge the contribution of Witsies in the struggle against apartheid”, September said.

Hargovan told Wits Vuvuzela that the possibilities presented to the family included a memorial lecture in partnership with the family at the School of Education and and the erection of a plaque on a ‘wall of remembrance’ in memory of those who lost their lives in the struggle for liberation.

Hargovan said that they are open to exploring the possibilities presented in order to commemorate her brother’s contribution to student activism, because she recalls them as having made “the ultimate sacrifice in the fight against injustice and oppression.”

September told Wits Vuvuzela that he is in contact with the family as they discuss the various options and he expects to make a recommendation to the SET after which a final decision can be expected.

FEATURED IMAGE: The late Yusuf Akhalwaya. Photo: Provided.