The statement below was drafted by academics at the University ofÂ Johannesburg on Thursday, 5 November, the day before the mass arrest ofÂ students and cleaning staff at the universityâ€™s Kingsway campus.
We the undersigned UJ academics are concerned with how the University isÂ responding to the ongoing student and worker protests on campus. OurÂ concerns include:
- Â The presence of police, anonymous bouncers and private security forcesÂ who continue to intimidate and assault students and staff with impunity.
- Â The degree to which media have not been given free access to campus toÂ report without bias on what is a peaceful protest.
- While the university technically speaking can be considered a â€œprivateÂ space,â€ it serves a public function and because of this has a particular duty toÂ facilitate basic human rights, including the freedom of peaceful assembly andÂ freedom of speech. This means that the interdict granted to the university toÂ address student and staff protests is excessive.
- The violence and intimidation meted out by security forces is escalating,Â which is exacerbating and provoking further tension on campus. We call forÂ this to stop immediately.
- Â The universityâ€™s disregard for the wellbeing of students is particularlyÂ distressing. Students and staff have sustained injuries that have led to hospitalÂ care, not to mention the traumatic effects of the undue violent response toÂ these peaceful protests.
- We want transparency and participation in the process of establishingÂ the task team charged with insourcing of workers.
- We declare our solidarity with the wider movement of â€œfees must fallâ€Â and our colleagues at other tertiary institutions.
- We call upon our Management to bring institutional policies andÂ procedures into line with the Bill of Rights in the Constitution: â€œEveryone hasÂ the right, peacefully and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket, andÂ to present petitions.â€
- We call on Management to investigate these incidents of violence withÂ the involvement of an independent institution, such as the South AfricanÂ Human Rights Commission.
These draconian apartheid style tactics are not becoming of an institution thatÂ claims to care for its students and staff. We call upon university ManagementÂ to act in accordance with its own values of â€˜Making Wise DecisionsÂ Collectivelyâ€™, â€˜Engaging Meaningfully with One Anotherâ€™, â€˜Displaying MutualÂ Respectâ€™ and â€˜Leading Consultativelyâ€™, as stated in UJâ€™s statement of values. WeÂ request Management to engage in an open, transparent, democratic, andÂ public conversation with students, workers, academic and non-academic staffÂ over and above formal structures. Vague statements are counterproductiveÂ and ultimately very disrespectful to all who are concerned.
Pier Paolo Frassinelli
Nicola Jo Bruns
Thea de Wet
Carina van Rooyen
Nafisa Essop Sheik
Featured Image: Lebogang MokeonaÂ