Statement on SRC President's comments
- By Wits University
Dear Colleagues, Students, Alumni and Members of the Wits University Community
The SRC President’s Facebook posts regarding Adolf Hitler and his subsequent comments to our student newspaper were forwarded to me over the weekend by a number of concerned staff, students and alumni. I have emailed the SRC President and asked him to account for his remarks but have not yet received a response.
The Facebook posts and subsequent comments are racist and offensive in the extreme. They make disparaging remarks about various communities and assume a similar characteristic among all white people. Disturbingly, they valorise a racist autocrat who was responsible for the murder of millions of people. Valorising such an individual is utterly unacceptable and especially dangerous in a climate where we are experiencing xenophobic attacks. It violates the fundamental values of Wits University.
In my email to the SRC President, I indicated that Wits strives to be a pluralistic institution and defends freedom of speech, even when this means allowing the expression of views that do not accord with our own views and values. However, we expect our officials to be circumspect in their utterances and to act within the values of the institution. This is a principle that applies to the SRC President and it has clearly been violated in this case.
As such, I am referring Mcebo Dlamini for investigation to see whether disciplinary charges should be brought against him in this regard.
To all individuals to whom this incident may have caused offence, I want to apologise for the fact that someone who is deemed a leader in our community could have made such shocking and embarrassing statements. His behaviour in no way speaks to the values of Wits as an institution.
Professor Adam Habib
Vice-Chancellor and Principal
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg