On 23 September the EFFSC-UP released a statement on their Facebook and Twitter pages claiming that UP had “illegally” suspended four of its leaders, chairperson Amla Monageng, spokesperson Lungile Sonwabo, EFFSC national spokesperson Naledi Chirwa and former chairperson Kabelo Mahlobogwane.
According to UP spokesperson Anna-Retha Bouwer, all actions that have been taken by the university have been taken in accordance with the provisions of UP’s Disciplinary Code. Bouwer further said all suspensions are subject to the finalisation of the disciplinary process, adding that UP could not disclose the names of students who are subject to disciplinary actions. Six students have been suspended, pending the finalisation of the disciplinary process. Students are temporarily suspended for specific transgressions. The transgressions vary from the contravention of a court order, disruption of academic activities, violent behaviour and damage to property.
The University said that letters were sent to the relevant students notifying them of their suspensions. Law societies on campus such as the Legal Shebeen have said they are available to students for legal support. Daso UP chairperson Kwena Moloto and Afriforum Youth UP spokesperson, Henrico Barnard confirmed that none of their members had been suspended. According to Moloto, “If a student is found guilty of any illegal actions we [Daso UP] support the university’s right to suspend [the student]. If, however, the university has suspended students with no evidence of illegal actions and/or transgressions of the code of conduct, then the suspensions must be lifted.” Barnard said, “We [Afriforum Youth] agree that all deserving students should have the opportunity to receive tertiary education, with admission based strongly on merit.” Barnard added that students must accurately define the term “decolonised tertiary education” before using the term.
On 4 October the UP Fees Must Fall Facebook page voiced its demands that the suspensions of students Sonwabo, Andile Gravey Nkonyane, Chirwa, Monageng, Mohlobogwane and former SRC president Mosibudi “Rassie” Rasethaba be lifted. According to the post, “Management suspended these students in an attempt to destabilise the movement of Free Decolonised Education.” According to one of the suspended students who wished to remain anonymous, the reason the majority of students had been suspended is because the university had deemed mass meetings and gatherings of people of colour as the “enemy to the law”, therefore members of the movement who were chairing and were vocal during these meetings were suspended. The student further added that protocols of suspensions were not faithfully followed, no measures were put in place to justify the suspensions, and a handful of students were informally briefed on their suspensions by members with access to inside information Suspended students are barred from all university-controlled systems, residences, all campuses and the UP portal. The EFFSC-UP did not wish to comment on the matter.
Photo: Ciske van den Heever.