Jacobs and the female Afriforum member left the venue as Rasethaba diffused the situation with Duck and EFFSC-UP. Jacobs and the female Afriforum member then returned to the venue to check up on the situation and members of the EFFSC-UP “charged” and “blocked” her, trapping her and Jacobs in the back corner of the venue. EFFSCUP insisted that they delete their video of the event. The members of Afriforum refused and shouted back at the EFFSC-UP.

Rasethaba then approached the group to help diffuse the situation, also recommending that the video be deleted while telling the EFFSCUP members to leave them alone because they would delete the video.

As Jacobs and the female Afriforum member tried to move past the EFFSC-UP members, however, the EFFSC-UP members attempted to grab the phone from the female Afriforum member’s hand while shouting at and pushing her and Jacobs. Jacobs managed to then pull the female Afriforum member through the back of the group and out the door at the back of the venue.

Rasethaba confirmed that he advised Duck and the female Afriforum member to delete their footage in order to de-escalate the volatile situation.

EFFSC-UP published a media release on Twitter on the evening of 27 August named #AfriforumTurnsIntoJournalists.

In the media release they stated, “The EFFSC-UP notes with grave concern the continuous collapse of the Student Form.”

In an interview with Perdeby, acting EFFSCUP chairperson Sam Mphuti explained that they [the EFFSC-UP] felt victimised on campus because security services constantly recorded members who wear EFF regalia wherever they went on campus. Johannes Ranoko, an EFFSCUP war councillor, stated that Duck’s camera was fixed on them the whole time, and even when Sasco members left the hall the camera did not move from them. “We tried to raise this with the chairperson but he failed to recognise us,” said Ranoko. Ranoko went on to say that the problem with Student Forum lies with the Chief Justice of the Constitutional Tribunal, Sanan Mirzoyev, calling him incompetent. Ranoko believes the only Student Forum that was successful was the second one this year, which wasn’t chaired by Mirzoyev. In the media release the EFFSC-UP stated that the “SRC president failed to protect members of the EFFSC-UP from being recorded by a white male and female member of Afriforum without consent”. As previously explained, Duck (the referred to white male) is not affiliated with Afriforum and was asked to take video footage from a different angle in the hall for Perdeby’s multimedia section.

The unrest on the floor before the incidents occurred began with members of the floor questioning the point of Student Forum and demanding for their question to be answered at Student Forum, despite not having submitted it 48 hours prior to the meeting. “The Student Forum was created in terms of the new Constitution as an attempt to create a more structured platform that would alleviate the ineffectiveness and chaos that had been caused by its predecessor [the Student Parliament]. The Constitutional Tribunal, as the judicial arm of student governance, was chosen to chair the meeting in order to ensure impartiality and that the exact procedure as envisioned by the Constitution was complied with,” explains Mirzoyev, according to the Constitution for Student Governance (CSG).

Regarding members asking that Mirzoyev not chair the next meeting, Mirzoyev explained that, “I do not hail from a political background, nor do I seek to advance any particular structure’s agenda or create the law. As a custodian of the Constitution, my only job is to ensure compliance with the rules and regulations of the institution. Now this may seem rigid, given the discretionary powers that a Constitution contains relating to substantive issues, but I must emphasise that the nature of Student Forum is purely procedural and therefore arguments that are made for more “judicial activism” are sadly misplaced.”

Mirzoyev further stated how he had explained the procedure of Student Forum at the beginning of the meeting. “Students were to submit questions in writing 48 hours in advance. After the SRC president had given the quarterly report, the students would be given an opportunity to direct their submitted questions at a particular SRC portfolio and would be entitled to ask follow-up questions until such time that they received a satisfactory response. I noted that this process had often left students disgruntled in the past, and informed them that if they wanted to have a more open or conversational platform with the SRC, then they should petition for or request a mass meeting in terms of section 46 of the CSG. The purpose of Student Forum, I explained, was to facilitate the transparency aspect of good governance, and that accountability should be sought through the mechanism of mass meetings,” Mirzoyev said. Mirzoyev also explained how he addressed the disruptions that occurred during the question and answer session. “I emphasised that no questions would be taken from the floor … this news was not received well and several students proceeded to leave the venue. At this point students started interrupting the process by making “points of order” and “points of clarity”. There is absolutely no provision for these “points of order” to be made in terms of the Constitution … I refused to allow students to ask questions from the floor (which are contained within the “points of order”) as this would undermine the rights of those students who had followed the correct legal process and who wished to have their questions answered,” Mirzoyev said.

“In keeping with my role as chairperson and upholder of the rules, I was unwilling to submit to disruptive behaviour, and as such I requested that the SRC respond to the submitted questions in writing and I stood the Student Forum down,” Mirzoyev concluded.

Perdeby spoke to a number of witnesses and political societies that were attending the Student Forum. Daso chairperson Miné Vorster said, “In my opinion, the [EFFSC-UP] doesn’t read the constitution so they don’t know the process. At every single Student Forum, the same thing happens because they don’t follow procedure and they think that the Chief Justice is wrong, but he’s actually just following the rules.” She added that she “doesn’t know why this [the disruption of Student Forum and the assault] is happening again because this should have stopped the first time, so I don’t know why they got away with it in the first place, but I feel glad that it happened in such a public space because there are so many witnesses and video recordings of the incident.” Daso plans to lay a complaint against the EFFSC-UP with the registrar. “We live in a democracy, and the media is part of a democracy, so you can’t have a democracy without free media to report and to hold whoever is in office to account. It’s very important. You can’t have an accountable society where the media is not free and fair and allowed to publish what they find. That’s why it was so shocking to us. It was public space so you were allowed to take recordings, but just because they know they might get into trouble with what was said and what was captured, they wanted to [prevent footage being published],” Vorster concluded.

The Louw Hall has CCTV cameras installed and security services confirmed that footage of the meeting exists.

*Perdeby cannot name the female Afriforum member due to her request for anonymity and legal reasons.

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