Suspended CPUT students calling for legal assistance
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Cape Town - Five senior engineering students from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) are calling for legal assistance to help them fight the institution after they were allegedly suspended during the November protests.
The students said the institution targeted them for leading student protests. Four of them now face disciplinary hearings and another student who claimed that he was not part of the protest has already been expelled.
Xolani Booi, a mechanical engineering final year student (expelled), Ayabulela Majavu, electrical engineering final year, Nam Malgas, chemical engineering second year, Yanga Tsama, civil engineering second year student, and Ongezo Dayimani, mathematical sciences final year, were arrested during campus protest about financial exclusions.
Booi said he was arrested because he was allegedly seen by-passing protesters, and was told he was part of those who were caught throwing stones at a building.
Majavu accused the SA Union of Students (Saus) of not being helpful to their situation. He said, as a result, students in the Western Cape, in particular CPUT, were now feeling intimidated to take part in the current shutdown, fearing that they might also be suspended.
CPUT student representative council's deputy president Sihle Ngxabi said as the SRC they reject and condemn the alleged victimisation of the five students.
"We demand that CPUT act as recommended by the parliament's portfolio committee on higher education to lift those suspensions with immediate effect and allow these students to conclude their 2021 academic year just like other students," said Ngxabi.
CPUT Spokesperson Lauren Kansley said any disciplinary hearing between CPUT and a student followed a stringent process before any outcome was reached.
Kansley said the process included logging a case, an investigation by campus protection service, and legal services deciding whether there were merits to proceed with the case.
She said in certain instances, like the cases in question, the dean of students appointed an independent external chairperson who has no affiliation to the institution whatsoever.
"This is to further guarantee impartiality and to ensure the integrity of the outcome of the disciplinary process," said Kansley.
"As the matters are still sub judice, CPUT is unfortunately not in a position to divulge any further information," said Kansley.
Saus spokesperson Thabo Shingange said it was their first time hearing about those charges, claiming that they were never informed officially.
Shingange said the union has a legal desk, a legal officer who has been hard at work trying to assist with cases across the country.
"We have invited SRCs to engage with our legal team, CPUT has not done that officially. So it would be unfair to say we are not doing anything because we are doing everything even as victims ourselves," said Shingange.