By Thobani Zikalala
“Each generation must out of relative obscurity discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it. … When we revolt it’s not for a particular culture. We revolt simply because, for many reasons, we can no longer breathe” – Frantz Fanon
In 2015, the greater student population of this country made the call for Free Decolonized Education. Since then, we have witnessed how this call has fallen on deaf ears. Our call has been met with anti black, pro imperialist sponsored victimization, brutalization and criminalization of students across the country via the agencies of the police and hired private security services. It must be stated that the private security services known as Mi7, like its namesake the MI7 being the British Military Intelligence operation, has unleashed its brutality (together with the SAPS) in a paramilitary style operation. To this end Vice Chancellors and the rest of university management staff nationally have actively participated in criminalizing students, as we have seen with the countless interdicts, arrests, criminal charges, suspensions and expulsions that have been meted out against students.
More than 40 UKZN students currently have pending court cases or are languishing in jail. Other students are receiving medical treatment in hospital due to injuries sustained at the hands of the South African Police Services (SAPS) and Mi7 as mandated by the UKZN management and sponsored by a pro imperialist agenda to contain black students in a perpetual colonial state of education.
There is a student who was raped by a police officer at the Pietermaritzburg (PMB) campus, bringing the list of unresolved rape and sexual assault cases in UKZN to 461, this year alone. There are many other violations that we have encountered at UKZN, and we have sat idle for fear of further victimisation. It is time we say enough is enough. We can no longer allow our campuses to be turned into paramilitary zones, where private security thugs and the SAPS reign supreme via the hidden hand of white supremacist pro imperialist agenda. We cannot accept the arrogance of the Vice Chancellor, ‘Dr’ Albert Van Jaarsveld, who sends countless communiques saying that it is business as usual at UKZN while students are continuously brutalized, even in our own residences.
Moreover, the Vice Chancellor runs UKZN as a concentration camp and not as a place of learning and the cultivation of ideas. After just over one year in office, he has already been accused of being blatantly racist by numerous DVCs across UKZN. He has turned our institution into a para military headquarters. The fact that numerous buildings across UKZN have gone up in flames during the short period that he has been in office is further evidence of responses to his racist agenda which in turn is imperialist sponsored. He has shown that he does not have the best interests of the students at heart and to this end is not a fit and proper person to hold the office of the Vice Chancellor.
As students of UKZN Howard College, we are saying it cannot be business as usual while police and the Mi7 control our institutions at gun point. We call on all students, as well as broader society, to stand in solidarity with us and demand a safe learning environment, where young minds can be allowed to develop intellectually and without fear of victimization. It cannot be that when students demand a basic right, we are met with brutality.
* We demand that the University and Government work with us in making Free Quality Education a reality NOW!
* We demand an end to rape via social responsibility justice. It can’t be that black bodies, mainly those of black women, are violated and nothing is done about it.
* We demand the dropping of all charges against the students.They are students fighting for a noble cause and are not criminals.
* We call for the immediate dismissal of the Vice Chancellor.
We will be having a peaceful demonstration at Howard College, and call for the university community and broader society to join us. It cannot be business as usual in our university until our demands are met.
Details of the mass demonstration are as follows:
Date: Monday 3 October 2016
Venue: UKZN Howard Colledge – Outside Gate 1 (main gate).
Students are urged to bring their learning materials. We shall study there as we cannot study under the current conditions on campus.
We also appeal to the public including our parents and families to come out in their numbers and join us in solidarity.