The acting president of the University of Cape Town’s Student Representative Council (SRC) is under internal investigation after posting a status on Facebook which students believe is homophobic. RA’EESA PATHER reports.
Zizipho Pae, the interim president of the SRC, UCT’s student governing body, posted the status to her Facebook page on Sunday, just two days after the US made its historic ruling to legalise same-sex marriage throughout the country.
“We are institutionalizing and normalizing sin! Sin May God have mercy on us….(sic),” Pae wrote on Facebook.
Facebook users immediately linked Pae’s statement to the US ruling, and 196 comments flooded in, with some students demanding that she clarify her position on homosexuality, while others defended her right to freedom of expression.
“Guys, this is Zizi’s opinion. If you don’t want to see it then unfriend her. You are not entitled to a response from her. We will never live in a world where everyone agrees with your view. Thank you for putting your view out there,” Keenan Hendricks, speaker for UCT’s student parliament, commented on Pae’s status.
Rhodes Must Fall organiser, Kealeboga Ramaru, pointed out the SRC’s willingness to address racism on campus, but its slow progress in tackling discrimination against LGBTIQ students.
“It quite amusing that the same SRC that said that black pain should not be debated would debate the pain of LGBTIQAP students,” Ramaru wrote.
Kgotsi Chikane, a student at UCT and a former member of the SRC, responded to Pae’s post, saying that it demonstrated the acting president’s views when it comes to equal rights for the LGBTIQ community.
“We must be consistent when we advocate for equality. Clearly Zizipho Pae (I am assuming that your vague opinion on institutionalising sin refers to the recent Scotus ruling in the USA – if it doesn’t then I will be the first to apologise and then inquire into what you are referring to) feels that equality has levels and that some are more equal than others,” Chikane wrote on Facebook.
On Monday night, the SRC released a press statement saying that it will conduct an investigation into Pae’s remarks, as well as any other complaints of homophobia lodged by its members and the general student population.
Some students reacted strongly to the statement demanding that disciplinary action immediately be taken against Pae, and her position as student leader be revoked.
On Tuesday morning Thato Pule, the chair of Transformation and Social Responsiveness at UCT, resigned her position, apparently in protest over the comments made by Pae.
“The institution of religion is unwavering and it’s a known fact. And with the SRC and the fact that I have to sit in committees for hours with people that get paid for it. To sit in those committees and my academics having to suffer and having nothing to show for it is a problem. I can’t,” Pule wrote on Facebook.
Pae has yet to comment on the response to her status update and the investigation ahead.