Late student activist Matikweni honoured at TUT for fight against academic exclusion

The late Matikweni Nkuna's sister, Elsie Simbine. l SUPPLIED

The late Matikweni Nkuna's sister, Elsie Simbine. l SUPPLIED

Published Jul 8, 2024


The late student activist, Matikweni Nkuna, who was killed by police in 1984 during a student protest, was on Thursday night remembered for his fight against the untransformed education system.

Nkuna was shot in the head during a student protest demanding recognition of a democratically elected student representative council at the then Mabopane East Technikon.

His statue is erected at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) Soshanguve South campus, which came after Mabopane East Technikon, Technikon Northern Transvaal and Technikon Northern Gauteng.

On Thursday night, the university hosted a gala dinner at Protea Fire & Ice in Menlyn, where the institution's faculty of humanities alumni chapter raised funds in honour of Nkuna, who hailed from Tembisa.

Executive dean of the department of humanities, Professor Mashupye Maserumule, who delivered a keynote address, said Nkuna fought against academic and financial exclusions.

“He fought for transformation of education. It’s a pity that much of the books about the history of student activism in this country do not foreground people like Nkuna. This is our fail because we often, even after our democracy, continue to wittingly or unwittingly not listen to our wisdom as inscribed in this African proverb: Until lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter,” he said.

He said the Struggle of the Nkuna generation in the 1980s at in the Technikon Mabopane East was the continuation of the struggle of 1976’s Tsietsi Mashinini generation in Soweto.

Executive dean of the department of humanities at TUT, Professor Mashupye Maserumule. l SUPPLIED

Maserumule announced that the university has decided to revive the Nkuna memorial lecture as an annual event and document his contributions in a book.

“The Nkuna memorial lecture is intended to animate the history of this university and the role of its students in a struggle for socio-economic justice. And this must also include Benjamin Phetla and Katlego Monareng who are the descendants of Nkuna who both perished in the cause of socio-economic justice,” he said.

Phetla died during the #FeesMustFall protest in 2016 while Monareng died in the 2018 student protest.

One of the former students, Khanyiso Sonti, said: “What we now enjoy today is because of the life that Nkuna dedicated to the university.”

The late Nkuna's sister, Elsie Simbine, recounted the horrific passing of her brother on August 14,1984 at the hands of the police.

“My dad received a call (on that fateful day) and he was told to come to an institution because my brother was hurt. They didn’t tell him that he was no more. On arrival he realised that he was no longer there. During that time the police and those who were in charge were hiding the truth and protecting each other. They said to him that he was running away and as he ran he fell on top of a rock and that’s how he passed on,”she said.

She said her father later found out that Nkuna’s body sustained a gun wound, suggesting that died after he was shot.

His brother, she said, was targeted by the police who gunned him down during a student protest.

Pretoria News

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