Sanctioned students hit back at Wits
The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) announced earlier this week that a verdict had been reached in a case of 11 students charged for the disruption of a concert by musician Yossi Reshef during Israel Apartheid week (IAW) on its campus last March.
See: Hooliganism dealt harsh blow by Habib on this website.
“Ten students have been found guilty of misconduct for disrupting or inciting others to disrupt the piano recital. They have been excluded from the University for a period of one year,” says Professor Adam Habib, Wits’ Vice-Chancellor and Principal (PICTURED BELOW RIGHT).
But the students refuse to accept the verdict – or their punishment – lying down.
Tokelo Nhlapo, who was the deputy president of the Student Representative Council last year, said the students were not prepared to do a “single minute” of the 80 hours of community service the university had ordered them to carry out.
“As far as I’m concerned, none of the people found guilty by the kangaroo court are prepared to do community service,” he said, adding that they were doing their part “as community leaders to stand up against the injustice of Zionism,” Nhlapo said afterwards.
But Prof Habib warned the students that “they ran the risk of being expelled should they refuse to abide by the rules and disciplinary codes of the university.”
The students had violated the rights of other people to express their views, Habib said, and their expulsions were suspended for two years, on condition they were not guilty of further misconduct during that period.
“Violated the very soul of the university”
Habib said the university’s management had wanted the students to realise they had “violated the very soul of the university” by not allowing other people to express their views. But, added Habib, “we didn’t want to destroy their futures.
“I think it is an appropriate balance that was struck,” said Habib.
He said the nature of the community service work would be determined at the end of the week.
Nhlapo (PICTURED LEFT) was previously threatened with a complaint of hate speech by AfriForum Youth for singing an altered version of Shoot the Boer before Julius Malema arrived to deliver a lecture on “economic freedom” in 2011.
Wits students who sang the song replaced the words “dubula iBhunu ” (shoot the Boer) with “dubula lekgoa,” which means “shoot the whites.”
In 2013 protesters at a Wits-organised replacement concert for the abandoned Reshef concert, chanted “Shoot the Jew” which led to a considerable setback for BDS-SA.
SAJBD member for the Eastern Cape, CHUCK VOLPE, subsequently wrote an op-ed piece for this website about his concern over “two recent events, one at Wits and one at Rhodes,” which, wrote Volpe, bore comparison.
Who is Tokelo ‘Toks’ Nhlapo?
- Tokelo ‘Toks’ Nhlapo is a social justice activist. He holds a BA in Politics and International Relations (2011); and a BA with honours in Journalism and Media (2012) – both from Wits. He was a Master of Arts candidate in Political Sciences at Wits in 2013. He is one of the founding members of the Wits Workers Solidarity Committee (WWSC). He is also a research intern at Swop (Society, Work and Development Institute) and a core member of the Wits Palestinian Solidarity Committee (Wits PSC).
- Nhlapo promised last August that the then-SRC would give Wits Vice-Chancellor Prof Adam Habib a “political baptism” according to the student newspaper Wits Vuvuzela.