UCT’s decision to drop disciplinary charges against 240 Rhodes Must Fall (RMF) members has been welcomed by the movement as a “huge relief”.
The ongoing conflict between UCT management and RMF started in March after student activist Chumani Maxwele flung human excrement on a statue of Cecil John Rhodes. After the statue was removed, RMF members faced disciplinary action for occupying UCT’s Bremner Building in March and Avenue House on April 29.
UCT vice-chancellor Max Price then granted RMF members amnesty for protest-related incidents.
Four students were suspended.
RMF handed UCT a document listing 240 members who stood in solidarity with those suspended. UCT responded by issuing them with admission of guilt pleas.
After refusing to sign the pleas and requesting that UCT abandon all disciplinary processes, RMF threatened to boycott “transformation talks” unless their demands were met. A mediation process was facilitated by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation last month.
“After what seemed like a near impasse a compromise was found in the spirit of justice,” RMF spokesperson Brian Kamanzi said.
RMF welcomed the dropping of the charges.
The UCT transformation committee will now proceed with transformation talks.
UCT spokesperson Pat Lucas said: “UCT is very pleased to have this agreement with Rhodes Must Fall
. These issues were a hurdle we needed to overcome to return to our ongoing, core consultation around transformation at UCT.”
RMF held a Justice for Marikana march yesterday, which started with RMF handing UCT a list of demands and concluded with speeches by attorney Jim Nicole, from the Marikana commission, and Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union president Joseph Mathunjwa.