Menziwa was ordered to apologise within five days of this ruling, which he did in a Facebook post. He was also ordered to perform 30 hours of community service in poor white communities by 31 December 2018. While Menziwa said he welcomes the court’s decision and will comply with its orders, he raised concerns over what he feels are double standards regarding the South African justice system and constitution. “White people will never be held accountable for their crimes against humanity,” he told Perdeby, adding that, “De Klerk is so free and unchallenged even when he presided over a government that masacred black people”. “A black child will be deemed an animal […] for expressing their anger and disatisfaction about the whites and the continued systematic oppression that we face daily” he said. When asked about the motive behind the expression of his hatred for white people in 2016, Menziwa attributed it to his environment and his background. “The only time I had to deal with white people before I got to UP was when I was working,” he said.
He explained his discomfort at UP and having to “deal with issues of Afrikaans”. “[You] could say there was some kind of a build-up. Almost every day you hear cases of racism, black people feeling oppressed and stuff and now the use of language and how it kind of disadvantages black people in itself,” he said.
“Particularly now when I focus on that day, that day of the [Pretoria] Girls High hair policy protest. So such things get to you. They hit home,” he recalled. Menziwa said that his words were “just out of anger”. “The issue of the killing – that came out wrong,” he said.
Afriforum Youth announced on its website that it “welcome[d] the ruling as those, regardless of their colour, who make themselves guilty of hate speech and incitement to violence should be punished by the courts. We however note that Menziwa’s punishment is not nearly as severe as that of Penny Sparrow, even though Menziwa’s statement contained an element of violence.”
Henrico Barnard, the 2016 Afriforum Youth Tukkies Branch chairperson said, “It is good to see that individuals active in the political sphere [are] not raised above the law. It would however appear from the outcome of this case that people from different races are subjected to different levels of penalty when race related transgressions occur. Individuals active in the political sphere should take responsibility for their actions as there are people who confuse politics with leadership and thus follow statements that are made, especially on public platforms like Facebook.” Menziwa was subsequently suspended from the SRC and expelled from UP following the Facebook post.
Menziwa said he believed that although he found his punishment to be fair, more could have been done by the university. “That’s where my problem lies. You do not just have to forget about whatever happens. You can’t just take someone to jail for saying hate speech or have a fine, get that person expelled and think you have dealt with the underlying issue,” he said.
When asked what a possible solution to this could be, Menziwa said on a personal level he would prefer to be part of whatever solution that the university is trying to come up with. “Looking at the broader student population, you can see that outcry even within themselves. Therefore at least there should have been more platforms [to] deliberate on this and find a working solution for everyone,” he said.
On 15 February, Prof. Themba Mosia, the Vice-Principal for Student Affairs and Residence Affairs and Accommodation, said that once a student has been through the normal disciplinary procedures and has been found guilty, they will serve the sentence meted out to them if they were suspended. “Once students have served the sentence and qualify to return to the university to complete their studies based on the applicable academic requirements, they are admitted into their study programme,” Prof. Mosia said.
On 15 February, UP spokesperson, Rikus Delport explained that where a student is found guilty of misconduct, possible penalties include suspension or expulsion. “If, however, a student is expelled from the University for a period, that student will have to apply for re-admission and will only be permitted to resume their studies at the University of Pretoria after the period of expulsion has expired and if such application for re-admission is successful,” said Delport.
He also told Perdeby that students are generally permitted to continue with their studies while a disciplinary enquiry or process is underway as persons are innocent until proven guilty.
Photo: Shaun Sproule