Stand-off after 'BDS-inspired Wits subterfuge’

  • wits prof vilakazi1
Prof Zeblon Vilakazi, acting-VC at Wits (pictured), asked Jewish Report on Wednesday to assure Jewish students that the university was doing its utmost to firmly deal with BDS’ illegal actions of beginning Israel Apartheid Week seven days early and thus illegally creating an ongoing stand-off with Wits' management. The question remains: will Wits walk the strong talk its offering and conveyed to the Jewish community?
by ANT KATZ | Mar 02, 2016

The erection of a Palestine solidarity exhibit on Wits campus on Monday is an act of “subterfuge”, the university’s acting vice-chancellor told Jewish Report on Wednesday.

The exhibit had been erected on the library lawns a week ahead of Israel Apartheid Week, the officially sanctioned, annual event and its nemesis, SA Union of Jewish Students opposing Israel Awareness Week, taking place across university campuses across the country next week. Wits management demanded the students leave after claiming the exhibit had been set up under “false pretences”.

Prof Zeblon Vilakazi, deputy vice-chancellor for Research and Post-Graduate Affairs at Wits, told Jewish Report on Wednesday that the venue had been booked by the university’s Orienteering Club to hold an exhibition there for the week.

wits prof vilakazi2Tuesday saw a stand-off between Wits management and the organisers, with both refusing to budge.

Students at the Palestine solidarity exhibit on campus discussion the removal of the exhibit with Prof Zeblon Zenzele Vilakazi. Photo: Tanisha Heiberg - VUVUZELA

On finding that the exhibition had “morphed into something else” and had “deviated from the original protocol, which was signed by both parties”, Prof Vilakazi on Wednesday said that Wits management’s attempts to have the exhibit removed had “become heated”.

Although Wits had the police and campus security on standby to “forcefully remove the exhibit” on Tuesday, said Prof Vilakazi, once “substantial media presence” arrived, “we decided not to do so due to the general campus climate around the country”.

Vice-Chancellor Adam Habib, who was present on Tuesday, had elected to “escalate the matter to committee level”, Vilakazi said.  



“Please assure Jewish students that we are engaged with members of SAUJS (SA Union of Jewish Students) and its chairman, Ms Dani Hovsha,” Vilakazi told Jewish Report. He asked the newspaper to convey his assurance to the community that the matter would be dealt with and that Wits management had a plan, should the present “stand-off” continue.

Prof Vilakazi said a statement would be placed on Wits’ website on Wednesday. (JR Online will post the statement once it appears.)

Azra Karim a member of the Wits Palestine Solidarity Committee told Wits Vuvuzela student newspaper that “all procedures were properly followed and the event was approved by university management.

“Everything was approved by them and now all of a sudden when they actually realise what it’s about, they want us gone,” he said.

However, the university accused students of being in violation of a court interdict. “The students broke the university’s rules and their behaviour is irresponsible, duplicitous and could put our campus at risk,” reported Vuvuzela.

The students were told in no uncertain terms by Vilakazi on Monday that the exhibition needed to be removed by 18:00 and could not remain for the rest of the week.

The students, however, are just as adamant that they won’t go. “We are going to challenge this and we are going to challenge this on a protocol level,” said SRC General Secretary Fasiha Hassan.

SEE STATEMENT - statement on “Events on the Library Lawns” pertaining to Israel Apartheid Week, has been posted by Wits management on their website. It can also be read on the Jewish Report website

1 Comment

  1. 1 nat cheiman 02 Mar
    BDS are LIARS . VC Habib and Prof Vilakazi do not have the courage to stop BDS fraud.


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