The short lifespan of the black mannequin


STRANGE FRUIT: The black mannequin that was hanging on a tree at the Wits Lawns during #IsrealApartheidWeek was swiftly removed after outraged by its insensitivity. Photo: Zimasa Mpemnyama

ON Tuesday, a picture of a black mannequin hanging by a noose from a tree at the Wits Library Lawns, made rounds on social media. The image was retweeted more than 600 times with Twitter users expressing outrage at the image which they said resembled the lynchings of black men in America.


The mannequin was hung late Monday night with clothes and placards but was discovered the following morning undressed.

Arriving on the scene almost an hour after the picture went viral, Wits Vuvuzela was told by SRC general secretary, Fasiha Hassan that the exhibition was part of #IsraelApartheidWeek activities and represented Israel’s disregard for black lives.

The message was clearly not well received, with some students not understanding its meaning.

Around 15 minutes later, Wits PSC members came and wrapped a Palestinian keffiyeh around the neck of the mannequin along with a t-shirt with the words, “Resistance is not Terrorism.”

A little while after that the mannequin was taken down, allegedly by students who felt insulted by the exhibition.

The mannequin was left on the ground of the library lawns, in two halves. When one of the Wits Palestine Solidarity Committee students was asked what happened to the exhibition, he replied: “It wasn’t received as we had wished.”

On Wednesday night, the Wits PSC released a statement apologising for the exhibition.


Israel independence celebrated while Palestinian supporters protest

Camels, jumping castles and free falafels were all part of the unusual 66th Israel Independence Day celebrations at Wits yesterday.

But while some Witsies crossed the library lawns on the back of a camel, the Wits Palestinian Solidarity Committee (PSC) held a film screening to protest the celebrations.

The film based on the life of “terrorist” fighter Leila Khaled was used as a means of showing the desperation of the Palestinian people who are fighting for their independence.

While the film was being screened, some members of the Wits PSC protested on the library lawns alongside the South African Union of Jewish Students (SAUJUS) who celebrated Israel’s independence.

Several protesters said Israel had blood on its hands because the state was created “through the blood of Palestinians.”

Members of the Wits PSC insisted that while the film focused on violent means of protest, the PSC itself believed in a non-violent approach to the dispute between the two nations. Aaliyah Mohammed, a member of the PSC, says the committee fights by calling for sanctions and boycotts on Israeli academic, cultural and sport activities.

Another committee member, Muhammed Ismail Bulbulia added: “Until the very end, I would fight for what I believe in provided I’m justified in fighting for it.”

Both the protest and the celebrations were conducted next to each other but no incidents were reported.