Cape Town -
While Chumani Maxwele, the UCT student who flung faeces at the statue of Cecil John Rhodes, faces a disciplinary hearing for allegedly racially abusing and threatening a staff member, he has now laid a counter-complaint against the same lecturer.
In Maxwele’s official complaint on Monday, he alleged he was victimised and racially profiled. In her complaint the staff member has alleged that Maxwele raised his voice at her after being told that a lecture venue was locked on May 1.
Maxwele allegedly banged on the door, pushed the staff member and said white people should be removed from UCT and killed.
He was suspended last week after being charged with intimidating, harassing, threatening and racially abusing the lecturer.
On Monday a group of Rhodes Must Fall (RMF) students protested on the steps of the Bremner Building, where they met Maxwele after his first appearance at a disciplinary tribunal. While Maxwele categorically denied the allegations, he said the hearing had been postponed as deliberations continued on whether he would be allowed to receive legal assistance.
He added that he was being victimised for his involvement in the RMF movement. “For us it is a political matter. It is intimidation from the university. They are isolating our issues from political challenges that are confronting the university,” Maxwele said.
“They try to delegitimise and criminalise us as black students. They frame us as criminals and dangerous people who go around shouting and swearing at people.”
Maxwele said UCT, among other universities, continued to resist change.
UCT communications and marketing department executive director Gerda Kruger said that the hearing, in respect of the confirmation or variation of the suspension order against the student, had been scheduled for Wednesday.
“It has come to our attention that the student has revealed the case to the media and is claiming that he is being charged because of his involvement in protest actions.
“This is regrettable and inaccurate. The suspension follows an unrelated, isolated incident and this occurrence is unrelated to any protest action on campus.”
In his counter-complaint, Maxwele said he was left ”traumatised” by the backlash he received from UCT staff and students due to his RMF activities.
On May 1 he went to the mathematics building to study and was told by a lecturer that the classrooms were locked. He said he then asked why the building was locked and she told him she had been “attacked by a savage black student who turned out not to be a student”, and that “a head of department was murdered by a savage and barbaric black student”.
He alleges that she said all these events had created an unsafe environment at UCT. Maxwele said he queried the relevance of her statements and she became angry and threatened to call security. He left after another lecturer spoke to him.
He questioned UCT’s swift action in dealing with the matter, saying he had lodged a complaint of racial abuse against a white student last year which had not been dealt with with the same urgency. He alleged it took nine months to respond.
“The manner in which the complaint against me has been handled shows racial bias… It is different to the manner in which my complaint of racial harassment (was handled). The complaint against me has been handled with haste.”
RMF member O’Refiloe Mashope said the group stood in solidarity with Maxwele. “This is another example of victimisation. There are plenty of cases involving white students that haven’t been given the same urgency.”