A Wits student and audience member get into a physical altercation at transformation panel hosted by the Wits Faculty of Health Sciences on Thursday night. Photo: Nokuthula Zwane
A physical altercation between a suspended Wits student and an audience member was just one of the many disruptions at a discussion about transformation at Wits University last night.
The discussion hosted by the Faculty of Health Sciences for their annual Ethics Alive Symposium included the Vice-Chancellors Adam Habib (Wits University), Max Price (University of Cape Town – UCT), Dan Kgwadi (North West University – NWU) and Mvuyo Tom (University of Fort Hare), along with struggle veteran and Wits alumnus George Bizos. Suspended student, Zama Mthunzi, who came into the venue wearing a t-shirt that read: Habib, Price kill Black lives,” was later removed by private security guards.
The unidentified man that he got into an altercation with was not removed leading to calls for his eviction from some remaining students who proceeded to interrupt the presentations of the speakers.
T-shirt says it all: During Prof. Kgwadi’s talk Wits student stands up and raises concerns
Habib then intervened and told the audience that “nobody is going anywhere”, and if the students could not let the speakers finish then they could leave.
Matters further escalated when another member in the audience said to the students “if you don’t want to be here then f**k off.”
In a statement released earlier today, Wits University confirmed that a suspended student had been “escorted off the campus.” Furthermore, the student was “reported to the police for violating a court order”. An audience member, who identified herself as an alumni of the university raised her concerns about the caustic relationship between the students, the vice chancellor and administration. “This policing of students, security and private militarisation is heart-breaking and only aggravates the relationship between the students and this administration,” she said.
Medical student, Nyabinghi Ngobeni, reminded Habib that last night’s event was the first time since last year’s protests that he has met with the students. “It’s disrespectful,” she said because the event should have been a student platform and everyone else there should have be disregarded.”
The gathering eventually concluded with an address by Wits alumnus and struggle stalwart Advocate George Bizos.
The recent petrol bombing of the Vice Chancellors office at the University of Cape Town is under investigation however Dr Max Price believe the incident was premeditated.
Surrounded by yellow police ticker tape, the office of University of Cape Town (UCT) Vice Chancellor Max Price has become the scene of a crime after an arson attack on Tuesday night.
The second day of protesting at the university escalated with student’s petrol bombing the VC’s office after the removal of a shack erected for a demonstration.
“I wasn’t on campus when the petrol bombing happened,” said Price. “Fire alarms went off and a team was called in to put it out,” he added.
This comes after the Rhodes Must Fall #Shackville demonstrations which began on Monday in protest of the lack of accommodation for black students at the university. Rhodes Must Fall activists erected a shack on Upper Campus which was subsequently forcibly removed.
A student, who did not want to be named, said “a small group of us decided to burn Bremner, Max Price’s office.”
“The building itself works against the students … We made the decision that we have to target UCT, the space, the actual building because the building, the administration particularly, it works to push black people out,” the student activist added.
It was the frustration of violence and the symbolism of the act that lead to the burning of Price’s office “[Max Price] himself is the reason why police come on campus, why they fire rubber bullets, why they imprison our comrades, basically why black people are kicked out, he is the gatekeeper of the system,” said the UCT student.
But despite these sentiments the VC seems unfazed by the demonstration, “The office represents the head of the university. Therefore, I do not take it personally,” said Price.
Price also said the attacks were “acts of vandalism which were planned and prepared.” He said evidence in the form of bottles and petrol were found in the same shack used in the protest.
At this stage there is no evidence of who is responsible for the arson attack but an investigation is underway. “It is a crime scene and will be treated as such,” said Price.
White students at the University of Cape Town (UCT) have taken to Facebook and Twitter with “racist” commentary, leading to further debate and clashes across social media, during the #RhodesMustFall campaign. Their comments have been shared under the hashtag #RacismMustFall.
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