Wits distances itself from review of Dlamini’s guilty verdict

Wits University has responded to requests from the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA), and the former Student Representative Council (SRC) president, Mcebo Dlamini, to speed up the process of review of Dlamini’s case.   

Wits University has distanced itself from the review of the guilty verdict on charges of misconduct against former Student Representative Council (SRC) president, Mcebo Dlamini. This is according to a letter sent to the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) from the office of the Wits vice chancellor Professor Adam Habib, which Wits Vuvuzela has seen.

Habib was responding to calls made by the PYA during a march on main campus on Monday, May 11. One of the demands made by the group was that the review of Dlamini’s case be moved to this Friday, May 15.

Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela, Wits University spokesperson Shirona Patel said the review is being handled by an “independent panel” and the university will distance itself from the actual process.

Patel told Wits Vuvuzela that “it is not up to the Legal Office to make such a decision,” but the review committee. Patel could not say who constituted the review committee.

In the letter sent from Habib’s office, the university says it supports the request to speed up the process of the review and adds that “a request to this effect has already been made to the Chair of the Review Committee”. It further states that “if the Review Committee finds in favour of Mr Dlamini, he will be reinstated as SRC President”.

Dlamini was recalled as President on May 4, following an announcement from the vice chancellor’s office. Earlier this year, the former SRC president was found guilty of misconduct but allowed to remain in his position by the vice chancellor pending a review of the case.

Last week, though, the vice chancellor announced that he was reversing this decision as it appeared to Habib, that Dlamini was intentionally delaying the review process.

Dlamini has said that his legal team has contacted the Wits Legal Office to demand that the review of his case be held by this Friday.

He told Wits Vuvuzela that it was now the university who was delaying the date of his review and with exams in less than a month, he would like to “exonerate” himself and prepare for his exams.

“Wits Management Must Fall”

A group of student organisations marched against the management of Wits University following the removal of SRC president Mcebo Dlamini.

Wits students carrying banners and singing all the way to Senate House.  Photo: Reuven Blignault

Wits students and Progressive Youth Alliance members, carrying banners, sing their way to Senate House earlier today.
Photo: Reuven Blignault

A group of student organisations marched on campus earlier today with a clear message to Wits Vice Chancellor Adam Habib and his management team.

“Run!” was the messaged delivered by provincial deputy secretary of the South African Students Congress (SASCO) Joy Phiri.

“No vice chancellor can tell us who our president is,” Phiri said. “Reinstate our President,” she said in reference to dismissed Student Representative Council (SRC) president, Mcebo Dlamini.

Dlamini later addressed the gathering and started by introducing himself as “Wits SRC president”.

He told the students that the problems the march was addressing were not about him.

“It has nothing to do with me as a person but everything this institution stands for,” Dlamini said.

“If I was a white president, I wouldn’t be charged today,” he added.

“It’s like the rules aren’t even applied across the board to everyone,” she said.

Nthabiseng Molefe, one of the students who helped to organise the event, the purpose of the march was to “challenge management”.

The challenges included the immediate review of Dlamini’s case, reinstatement to the position as Wits SRC President and a look at the situtation of the MJL Electrical workers.

MJL Electrical Workers

Speaking on behalf of the MJL Electrical workers, Richard Ndebele told the crowd that they wrote a letter to the vice chancellor expressing their feelings about how the University handled “their situation”.

 
View photos of today’s march 

Ndebele told Wits Vuvuzela that the response to this email was “contents noted.” MJL Electrical was a contractor of Wits University which made its employees “outsourced” workers. The workers have been unemployed since the University terminated its contract with the company.

“We are starving,” said Ndebele, during his address at the march. “These people cannot support their families.”

A 2nd year BCom Law student, Lebo (who did not want to give her surname), said, “a lot of students are frustrated with the way the University is dealing with certain situations”.

Handing over the memorandum  to the Dean of Students Dr Pamela Dube, Molefe said Dube was not “allowed to speak” but she must “act”.

Dismissed SRC president demands a public review

The former Wits SRC president is demanding a public review and is hoping to be reinstated. 

Dismissed SRC president Mcebo Dlamini is calling for an immediate public hearing of the review on the misconduct charge that led to him being removed from his position.

Dlamini told Wits Vuvuzela that his legal team has contacted the Wits Legal Office to demand that the review of his charge be held by this Friday.

He is also demanding that his hearing be public and the media be allowed to attend and report on its proceedings for “transparency and public interest.”

“[Vice Chancellor Adam] Habib made my case to be of public interest,” said Dlamini. “He wanted me to be found guilty by public opinion.”

Dlamini had been found guilty of misconduct in February this year. He was allowed to remain as SRC president pending a review. However, last week this decision was reversed with Habib arguing that Dlamini was intentionally delaying the process.

Read Adam Habib’s response to the reaction following Dlamini’s axing

But Dlamini told Wits Vuvuzela that it was now the university who was delaying the date of his review and with exams in less than a month, he would like to “exonerate” himself.

“I want to concentrate on my exams now,” he said.

According to university’s spokesperson, Shirona Patel, the University will allow the legal process to take its course in line with its processes and procedures.

“It is not up to the Legal Office to make such a decision as they cannot act on behalf of the Student Disciplinary Committee that is hearing the matter.” she said.

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Witsies divided over Dlamini

WHAT'S IN A NAME?: Mcebo Dlamini says the #Sisulu controversy did not affect his political standing.  Photo: Luca Kotton

DEEP DIVISION: Witsies remain divided over the reasons for the axing of SRC President Mcebo Dlamini. Photo: Wits Vuvuzela.

There have been mixed reactions at Wits University the removal of the SRC (Student Representative Council) president Mcebo Dlamini by the vice chancellor, Adam Habib last week.

Wits University found itself at the centre of the nation’s attention last week as a result of the comments made by Wits SRC president, Mcebo Dlamini. But on campus, student reactions were divided over the reasons for the subsequent axing of Dlamini.

The announcement, signed by the vice chancellor (VC) regarding Dlamini’s removal was sent through the Wits email system to all members of the Wits community, earlier this week. According to the statement though, Dlamini’s “I Love Hitler” post on Facebook, was not the reason for Dlamini’s removal. Instead, the email said, the decision was based on the fact that “Mr Dlamini was found guilty of misconduct”.

Despite the vice chancellor’s clarification about the reasons for the dismissal, many students remain sceptical.

Mzwanele Ntswanti, 3rd year Actuarial Science, does not believe that the sacking of Dlamini is a “coincidence” as it followed after the Hitler statement.

A 3rd year BSc student, who did not want to be named, told Wits Vuvuzela that he is aware of the reasons behind Dlamini’s sacking.

But added, “I highly disapprove of the vice chancellors decision to depose our democratically elected student representative.”

“Wits University is not an autocracy nor is it a high school where student representatives are appointed and sacked by one person,” he said.

Tom Dodson, 3rd year Bachelor of Arts, agrees with the VC’s decision to remove Dlamini. “A lot of the statements that he (Dlamini) made, made a lot of sense.”

However, Dodson said, “if you going represent the entire student community … You’ve really gotta think a lot harder about what you say and how you say it”.

Thembelihle Mbalu, told Wits Vuvuzela that she “supports the Habib’s decision without reservation” because Dlamini is “very defiant”.

“Mcebo was long overdue as our President.” She added, “he has been irrelevant in his addresses to students, talking about bias issues and narrow-minded opinions.”

Nivek Ranjith, a 2nd year Computer Science student, thinks the way that the VC announced Dlamini’s removal was “rude”.

“The way he did it, they gave so much detail … you can’t expose him like that,” Ranjith said.

 

SRC president defends his comments in the media

In interviews with eNCA and 702, the Wits SRC president Mcebo Dlamini defended his facebook comments about Adolf Hitler that he made over the weekend.

SRC President Mcebo Dlamini at Wits University outside the Great Hall. Photo: Tendai Dube

SRC President Mcebo Dlamini at Wits University outside the Great Hall. Photo: Tendai Dube

The Wits SRC president Mcebo Dlamini defended his comments about admiring Adolf Hitler, on eNCA and 702 talk radio this morning.
This comes after Dlamini caused controversy this weekend after he posted a Facebook picture that compares Adolf Hitler with Israeli PM, Benjamin Netanyahu along with the caption, “In every white person there is an element of Adolf Hitler’. Later on in the comments of the same facebook post he says, “I love Adolf Hitler”.

“I admire Adolf Hilter’s style of leadership, he made a nation rally behind him.”

The South African Union of Jewish Students (SAUJS) said that Dlamini’s statements were “racist” and “anti-Semitic, constituting hate speech according to the South African constitution.” The union added that the SRC president’s behaviour was a violation of his leadership role and a “total embarrassment and disgrace to Wits University.”
Despite this outcry from the Jewish community on campus, Dlamini said that he is shocked by the by the response from the white community, “If indeed the Israelites hate Hitler so much…why are they emulating Hitler in that they are subjecting the Palestinian children to discrimination, segregation and human indignity?” is what he told News24 in an interview today

Earlier this morning Dlamini speaking to The Redi Tlhabi Show on 702 and explained that there are good leaders who turn bad,“I admire Adolf Hilter’s style of leadership, he made a nation rally behind him.”
Tlhabi questioned whether Dlamini’s same theory and leadership outlook, extended to Apartheid.
Dlamini said, “Apartheid was well orchestrated it had good leaders to implement it… that is why it lasted so long.”

When asked about his statement by 702’s Tlhabi, that every white person has “an element of Adolf Hitler”, Dlamini defended his comment saying that Hilter put black people in a “zoo” the same way white people did.
“That’s why I’m saying there is an element of Hitler in all white people, what is the difference between George Bush… Tony Blair …Malan…Benjamin Netanyahu and Adolf Hitler?”
“They are all white and hate black people.”

“A black man can’t be racist…racism is power…I don’t have power”

Whilst talking to the eNCA, Dlamini said “A black man can’t be racist…racism is power…I don’t have power”
The SRC president explained to eNCA anchor, Joanne Joseph, that white people have blood on their hands because white people colonised, dispersed and enslaved black people.
“They are racist and are full of hate.”

The South African Union of Jewish Students (SAUJS) said that Dlamini’s statements were “racist” and “anti-Semitic, constituting hate speech according to the South African constitution.” The union added that the SRC president’s behaviour was a violation of his leadership role and a “total embarrassment and disgrace to Wits University.”
Despite this outcry from the Jewish community on campus, Dlamini said that he is shocked by the by the response from the white community: “If indeed the Israelites hate Hitler so much…why are they emulating Hitler in that they are subjecting the Palestinian children to discrimination, segregation and human indignity?” according to News24.

Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Adam Habib, has since released a statement saying that the Facebook posts and subsequent comments are racist and offensive.
‘It violates the fundamental values of Wits University… we expect our officials to be circumspect in their utterances and to act within the values of the institution.”

Xenophobia: not in our name!

WE ARE ALL AFRICANS: All Wits students, united outside the Wits Great Hall stairs to send a message.

WE ARE ALL AFRICANS: All Wits students, united outside the Wits Great Hall stairs to send a message against xenophobia. Photo: Sinikiwe Mqadi

Today, Wits students led by vice chancellor, Prof Adam Habib, and the Student Representative Council marched around campus, singing songs of liberation in solidarity with those affected by the recent xenophobic attacks.

Over a 1 000 Wits students walked from Wits International House to the Great Hall, some in green t-shirts that read “I AM Africa” and placards that  with anti-xenophobic messages.

In welcoming the crowd general secretary of the SRC, Senzekahle Mbokazi,  described the presence of the Wits students as “overwhelming”.

“Today, I lift up my head when I look at the Wits community”

Habib described the past two weeks for South Africa as “shameful” but today he stood proud to be part of the Wits community.

“Today, I lift up my head when I look at this community,” he said. “Because Wits has stood together and said not in our name”.

“It is fundamental that this university serves Africa,” said Habib.

Elvis Munatswa, a Wits student who was physically attacked recently inside the taxi on his way home from Wits by four men including the driver, also addressed the crowd while standing on crutches.

“I stand here well, attending a few session for physiotherapy just to get my leg on track,” he said. “But I am skeptical of using a taxi.”

Munatswa told the crowd his attack not occurred only because he is a Zimbabwean.

“If they didn’t like me for any other reasons other than my nationality, they would’ve kicked me out of the taxi,” said Munatswa. His attackers took his belongings, including a laptop and wallet, before throwing him out of his taxi. .

“The march has reflected a positive side of South Africa that he hasn’t seen in recent weeks”

Ayofunde Awosusi, the president of West African Student Society at Wits, said the march has reflected a positive side of South Africa that he hasn’t seen in recent week.

“From the foreign student perspective [the march] gives us hope,” he said. “Even though it doesn’t make us feel safe or better but it has the general vibe of what South Africa is about.”

But Awosusi believes a lot needs to be done, and one of them is “constructive measures to make sure that foreign students are safe on and off campus.”

For Midred Airo, the chairperson of the East African student society, the message that Witsies needed to take home after the march was that “violence is not the answer”.

“Tell your brother and sister to stop violence” said Airo.

Wits students are expected to join the Peoples’ March against xenophobia tomorrow, at 1pm. Over 30 000 people are expected to march from Pieter Roos Park in Hillbrow and end at Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown, Johannesburg.

Habib said in an email to the Wits community that staff and students could be excused from university work to attend the march. Buses would also be provided from Wits campus to Pieter Roos Park for marchers. Four buses would depart at noon and another four at 12.30 PM from the Amic Deck.

Buses would also be provided for students returning from Newtown at 4pm and again at 4.30pm.

 

 

 

 

Esselen residents occupy Res Life to be heard

Residents of Esselen Residence occupied Residence Life Offices in Park Town, with a memorandum of grievance, on Friday.

According to the House committee members, Head of Residence life Rob Sharman made various promises and one of them include a resolution about the building next to Esselen and the closing of Esselen Street, after a shooting that occurred last year in Esselen.

 

ARC President Mxolisi Sopiseka handing over the Memorandum to the head of Residence Life Rob Sharman.

ARC President Mxolisi Sopiseka handing over the Memorandum to the head of Residence Life Rob Sharman.

“Last year there was a shooting, even Habib and Pamela Dube came to Esselen to listen to us, but nothing has been done since then” said Thero  Montwedi, Vice-Chairperson of the house committee.

Precious Maseto told Wits Vuvuzela that “the problem is not Hillbrow, but the building next to Esselen” she said “that building is dirty, their  sewage system passes through Esselen”.

“I don’t know if it’s because we are staying in Hillbrow that we are subjected to such conditions, we are also Wits  Res Students”
 Florence building making life for Esseleners, a living hell

According to the students, Florence building (the building next to Esselen residence) has made their living conditions a living hell and their study environment very  unfavourable.

“The environment is not conducive for learning, in the study room there’s sewage dropping from the building from next-door” said Montwedi “I  don’t know if it’s because we are staying in Hillbrow that we are subjected to such conditions, we are also Wits Res Students” he said.

Luyanda Mgidlana said “the main problem is the building at the back, the sewage and the crime comes with it”.

When the memorandum was being read out to Sharman, house members started shouting, showing their dissatisfaction with the fact that it did not include the inconveniencies caused by the new bus schedule.

Dissatisfaction with bus service

“I Esselen ayinama Directi!” shouted one person from the crowd, saying Esselen has no direct bus.

Majority of the students are Education students and the new bus system has caused a lot of inconveniences.

“The bus picks up people from Education campus, drop them at Esselen then goes to Amic Deck, after it picked up people at Esselen, rather than going back to Education Campus again” said  Lerato, Esselens safety and security officer.

Head of Residence life, Sharman has refused to issue a public statement.

He said “it would be ethically unwise to make a public statement, until we have responded in writing to the students on their memorandum”

The Chairperson of All Resident Council (ARC) and Esselen, Mxolisi Sopiseka told Wits Vuvuzela that the purpose of the march was to make students aware of Esselen and its problems, as it is not an Esselen Problem but a residence issue.

“Students get affected, whether they stay at Esselen or not” he said “you find people who get excluded at Junction and Noswal moving to Esselen”.

“Even those who stayed at Esselen for four years, if you ask them if they applied to Esselen one thing you would find that is common is that they never applied” he said “we all went to Esselen because of circumstances”.

SRC President Mcebo Dlamini, addressed the residence of Esselen and said “we are told it is a privilege to be at University, thus we must obey?” he said “enough is enough, this is not a protest but a rock up”.