Johannesburg - Disgraced Wits student representative council (SRC) president Mcebo Dlamini has been fired from his position, and his academic career hangs in the balance.
On Monday he was academically excluded, but this was suspended. The recent furore over his Hitler remarks could lead to a secondary disciplinary hearing.
A disciplinary hearing ruled on Monday that Dlamini be excluded – a sentence that will remain suspended for a year as long as he does not contravene any of the university’s rules.
Wits said he had caused more damage to the institution’s reputation than anyone else it could recall in the past 20 years.
A source close to Dlamini’s disciplinary committee said while Dlamini was under investigation for his recent “I love Hitler” comments on Facebook, it was previous indiscretions, including the assault of a senior staff member, that led to his removal.
The university would not give details of last year’s physical assault, but the incident was the key factor in his expulsion from the SRC, alongside a series of verbal altercations via e-mail with senior staff members.
Dlamini came under the media spotlight for posting a photo on Facebook last week, comparing the Israeli government to the Nazi regime. “In every white person there is an element of Hitler…” he wrote on his Facebook page.
Dlamini defended his remarks and said he “admired Hitler’s organisational skills” and was looking at “Hitler’s good side”.
“Hitler managed to uplift the spirit of the German people,” he said in an explanation.
This led to a war of words between Dlamini and Wits vice-chancellor Adam Habib.
Habib condemned Dlamini’s post as “racist to the extreme”.
On Thursday, Dlamini responded by calling the university an anti-black establishment with white-centred policies.
Habib said on Monday that Dlamini’s words were “opportunistic accusations”.
“The Wits student population is 74 percent black, so on what basis is he making this assertion? Anyone can make an assertion, but one needs proof to back it up. He has not shown evidence to back up his claims.”
Habib said the controversial student leader went out of his way in attempts to delay his disciplinary outcome until the end of his tenure as SRC president.
“To allow this to happen would be a violation of the principles of justice. As someone who claims to love this institution, I believe Mr Dlamini has single-handedly wrought more damage on its reputation than any other person who I can think of in at least the past two decades,” Habib pointed out.
He made it clear this decision was not influenced by the “I love Hitler” incident. But Dlamini’s comments, he said, “violated the fundamental values of Wits”.
The university said in a statement: “Mr Dlamini has brought our institution into disrepute. His remarks have provoked multiple complaints from people of all racial, political and religious persuasions, including a petition demanding his immediate expulsion from the university.”
Dlamini also threatened to kill an individual and his children via a Facebook post.
Habib said he regarded this as immature behaviour.
“Even though he (Dlamini) may have been provoked, (the threats) are in my view an indication that he lacks the maturity required of a student leader who is meant to represent a diverse and cosmopolitan community of over 30 000 students.”
Habib said Wits was still deliberating whether to take legal action against Dlamini for his actions on Facebook.