Female students interrupted a mass meeting called to support the former #FeesMustFall leader.

A group of female students disrupted a Wits Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) meeting on Tuesday, March 11, accusing Mcebo Dlamini of being a rapist.

Dlamini is a former Wits SRC president and #FeesMustFall leader. The day before, he had pleaded guilty to a charge of public violence related to the 2016 student protests, and of unlawfully and intentionally staying in SA.

TimesLive reported that, “The Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court sentenced Dlamini to two years, wholly suspended for five years, for public violence. He was also given six months’ imprisonment, again wholly suspended for five years, for unlawfully staying in the country.”

Dlamini’s sentencing was the main item on the agenda of the PYA mass meeting at Solomon Mahlangu House.

Mpendulo Mfeka, a final-year LLB student told the meeting that, “The system is lynching Dlamini and others as an example, to say that tomorrow, if we should have protests, they are criminalised protests. If we allow this, we will be setting a bad example.”

However, as soon as the meeting started, a group of female students stood and held up placards accusing Dlamini of being a rapist. Two of the placards read, “Covid-19 has less victims in SA than Mcebo” and “We will not mourn a rapist”.

Nontsikelelo Nkosi, one of the female students, told Wits Vuvuzela afterwards that, “[This] is something that we are not going to keep quiet about and pretend that he is still that FeesMustFall activist who is not tainted, and especially because there have been so many before him, and there has never been this sort of outcry for them.”

According to Nkosi, the students who accused Dlamini of rape tried to speak out about this at a Junction Residence house meeting in 2016. “Most girls came out in this meeting and spoke about him being a rapist and that they had personally experienced being violated by him.”

Nkosi also said the university had moved him out of the residence into a postgraduate residence. This according to her was proof that there had been ongoing conversation about Dlamini being an alleged rapist.

The meeting, however, proceeded as planned once the group of women left with Dlamini’s supporters cheering. Mfeka said if anyone stood up to speak, “please give us a solution and not a problem”.

Back on the subject of Dlamini’s sentencing, Mfeka said, “Anyone who protested in a genuine cause must be allowed and pardoned by the end of this week.”

After the meeting, he told Wits Vuvuzela that, “We cannot turn a blind eye to one of our own students being arrested and we are not turning a blind eye to the issues that were raised here.”

Mcebo Dlamini speaking at an Israeli Apartheid Week rally at Wits. 

He went on to say as the PYA they were still unclear about the group of women’s allegations about Dlamini.

“We must take these accusations with the seriousness in which they were made. Which is why we made sure they (the group) were given a platform to speak [today]. We have a responsibility to believe the victim with cases like this. Let’s hear what the victim is saying. Once we hear the victim, we move forward,” Mfeka said, even though he could not say what ‘moving forward’ would entail.

FEATURED IMAGE: Female students accusing Mcebo Dlamini of rape. Photo: Niall Higgins.