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UCT student in hot water over social media slurs

Published Mar 14, 2016

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Carlo Petersen

A UCT student is facing university disciplinary procedures, charged with making racist and defamatory remarks about a lecturer on social media.

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Undergraduate student Busi Mkhumbuzi has refused to retract the statements she made about the head of UCT’s philosophy department Professor David Benatar.

“I have called him racist, ableist and sexist in person and on social media. I am able to tell him that he is racist because it is true. He has written essays and articles where he unconcernedly spews his racist hate. I refuse to retract the statements,” Mkhumbuzi said.

She said Benatar had prevented her from writing her final exams last year after she experienced a traumatic event and struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

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As a result she was unable to attend compulsory lectures for her ethics class.

“Unfortunately, due to my absence, I was denied Due Performance by Professor Benatar. I appealed numerous times and my appeal was rejected. I decided to stage a sit-in at Bremner Building until I was taken seriously by the university’s senior staff,” she said.

Four weeks ago, UCT vice-chancellor Max Price decided “on compassionate grounds” that Mkhumbuzi should be granted Due Performance for her ethics course after she presented her medical notes.

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She said Benatar made formal complaints to the university, alleging she had defamed him. She has called on students, academics and alumni who have been affected by Benatar’s writing and comments in class.

“I aim to disprove his case that I am racist for calling him racist, press several charges against him and ask for his removal as a UCT lecturer, and as the head of the Philosophy department,” she said.

Benatar said the facts were not as Mkhumbuzi alleged and cannot be discussed.

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“She is facing disciplinary procedures for serious breaches of student rules.,” he said.

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