Chumani Maxwele

Carlo Petersen

CHUMANI Maxwele is being victimised and UCT is employing apartheid-style tactics against the student activist, who has been suspended from the university pending a disciplinary hearing.

This sentiment was expressed by a host of political organisations, including the ANC Youth League, the South African Students Congress (Sasco) and Congress of South African Students (Cosas) yesterday.

The Democratic Alliance Students Organisation (Daso) was contacted but was unable to comment yesterday.

UCT suspended Maxwele for two months pending a disciplinary hearing into allegations that he threatened and racially abused a lecturer.

He flung human excrement on the Cecil John Rhodes statue on March 9, spurring the eventual removal of the statue.

Maxwele is appealing his suspension and has since laid a counter-complaint against the lecturer, alleging that he was victimised and racially profiled during the incident on May 1.

ANCYL chairperson Muhammad Khalid Sayed said UCT was using “apartheid-style” tactics against Maxwele.

“He is definitely being victimised by UCT and we will support him. As the ANCYL, we want to see transformation, especially at UCT.

“We feel this is a conspiracy against Maxwele. We’ve seen the same happening during apartheid when activists were targeted,” he said.

Sasco spokesperson Luntu Sokutu said UCT’s disciplinary tribunal was being used by university management to silence the voices of student activists.

“They are using their administrative power to minimise any form of disagreement on campus. Generally we feel Chumani and others at UCT are being victimised,” he said.

Cosas spokesperson Zama Khayase said: “We have seen this before. It is usual for universities to target one student, so as an organisation we are of the view that this is victimisation and we need to unite against it.”

Maxwele insists that the debacle is “a political matter”.

“It is intimidation from the university. They are isolating student activist issues from political challenges that are confronting the university.

“They try to delegitimise and criminalise us as black students. They frame us as criminals and dangerous people who go round shouting and swearing at people,” he said.

UCT has maintained that the suspension and disciplinary hearing against Maxwele is not political.

“UCT rejects the false notion, which has been expressed to media, that the disciplinary case against Mr Maxwele is related to, or is a result of, his recent Rhodes statue protest action.

“The suspension and disciplinary case he is facing is based on an isolated incident. Not a single student at UCT (including Mr Maxwele) has been charged with any matter related to the protest action.

“It is deceitful to claim that his suspension and the disciplinary case are related to his protest action, or that UCT is victimising Mr Maxwele for his activism. It is baseless and factually not a sustainable argument,” UCT spokesperson Gerda Kruger said.

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