“Time for all whites to go”: UCT student

 ·8 Jun 2015

University of Cape Town (UCT) says it suspended student, Chumani Maxwele, because of a number of racially charged incidents.

In March 2015 Maxwele ignited national debate about post-apartheid racial transformation after he threw a bucket of human excrement at a statue of Cecil John Rhodes on the UCT campus.

The statue has since been removed; however, the university denied that Maxwele faced a disciplinary charge and suspension because of his actions towards the statue.

“Ordinarily we treat student disciplinary matters as private. We have therefore, until now, not made public any details of the allegations against him. We have not done so, notwithstanding the fact that Mr Maxwele has made serious claims against a UCT lecturer – and if these claims are found to be baseless, they would be damaging and possibly actionable,” the university said.

It noted that Maxwele had, however, chosen to put these matters in the public domain. He has done so in papers filed on the 2nd of June 2015 with the Equality Court.

The university said that since the matter was now in the public domain, it was obliged to record that Maxwele faces charges that on 1 May 2015 he insisted on being allowed into the Mathematics building after being informed that as it was a public holiday, all lecture theatres and classrooms were locked.

Once inside the building, and after ascertaining that the said rooms were in fact locked, he is alleged to have:

  • Raised his voice at the lecturer (who was in the department to mark student papers), stating that she was “a white woman who takes all the rights of the black students”;
  • Shouted aggressively that “the statue fell; now it’s time for all whites to go”;
  • Stated that he was not interested in the opinion of whites and that they should be killed;
  • Continuously shouted and swore at the lecturer and two other witnesses to the incident;
  • Started banging on the lecturer’s office door (after she had entered the office and locked her door) and when the lecturer opened the door, to have pushed her in his attempt to enter;
  • Continued to shout and scream at her and bang on her desk; and
    uttered the words: “We must not listen to whites, we do not need their apologies, they have to be removed from UCT and have to be killed.”

The charges, UCT said, are based on statements and complaints made by the lecturer on Saturday, 2 May 2015 (the day following the incident).

It added that Maxwele was issued with charges after the witnesses had been interviewed on the following Wednesday, 6 May 2015, and he was issued with a provisional suspension order on Thursday, 7 May 2015.

On the morning of Monday, 11 May 2015, 10 full days after the incident, Maxwele gave a statement of complaint to the University’s investigations officer.

The hearing of the complaints against Maxwele, scheduled for 4 & 5 June 2015, was postponed as his legal representatives have submitted a medical certificate stating that Maxwele is indisposed and will not be able to present himself for the matter until 9 June 2015.

UCT said that the lecturer’s version was supported by witnesses and was filed the day after the alleged incident.

“The University considered Mr Maxwele’s alleged actions to be threatening and intimidating, and to have been unprovoked. Therefore the University had reason to perceive a potential risk to staff and students. This was the reason for the University’s provisional suspension order against Mr Maxwele,” it said.

It further pointed out that Maxwele’s complaint arrived 10 days after the alleged incident and investigators could find no witnesses to support his statement.

“UCT rejects the false notion, which has been expressed to media, that the disciplinary case against Mr Maxwele is related to or is a result of his recent protest action in regards to the Rhodes statue,” UCT said.

It stressed that not a single student at UCT has been charged with any matter related to any of the protest actions that occurred from 9 March to midday on 18 May 2015.

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