UCT withdraws charges against students implicated in protests since 2015
The university’s council adopted the Institutional Reconciliation and Transformation Commission (IRTC) report. The IRTC began its work in February last year following a negotiated agreement between UCT’s executive, the students’ representative council and other student organisations that took part in the protests that unfolded at UCT, including the #RhodesMustFall, #FeesMustFall and Shackville protests.
The commission was mandated to look into institutional culture and practices, including issues of decolonisation, transformation, unjust discrimination, and amnesty for students.
Former Azanian People’s Organisation (Azapo) president, respected academic and author, Mosibudi Mangena, chaired the commission of which anti-apartheid activist and former Constitutional Court Justice Zak Yacoob and human rights lawyer Yasmin Sooka were members.
In the scathing 92-page report published earlier this year, the commission said it received 80 submissions, held amnesty and public hearings as well as examined many documents submitted by the university, students and other interested persons or entities.
“It is worth noting that not a single submission claimed that UCT was not a racist place,” the report said.
Yesterday Shackville TRC representative Sinoxolo Mbayi said February 15-16, 2016, the dates on which a shack was built on campus to highlight a lack of accommodation for black students, and demolished a day later, was an indictment of UCT and the structural exclusion and racism of the institution.
“Black people and other systematically disadvantaged constituencies have always cried about their experience of being made to feel like pariahs in an institution that is supposed to be their own.
"We can only thank the IRTC for it validated our experiences." UCT Council chairperson Sipho Pityana said council noted the varied responses to the IRTC report from different constituencies.
The diversity was unsurprising given the contested nature of the events investigated.