Ex-Wits SRC president’s Hitler comments were freedom of speech

“On the basis of existing case evidence, the legal office found that Mr [Mcebo] Dlamini’s utterances did not breach the exceptions to the Constitution regarding freedom of speech,” the University of Witwatersrand said in a statement on Tuesday. 

“There are grounds for him to be charged for failing to meet his fiduciary requirements as SRC president. However, given the fact that he has already been removed from this capacity, the university does not deem it appropriate to charge him in this regard,” it said.

The university maintained that Dlamini’s remarks were “abhorrent”.

The ousted SRC president had said that he believed that all white people had an element of Hitler in them.

Wits said it was “embarrassed” that one of its own could have made such comments. “However, given its commitment to freedom of speech as espoused in the Constitution, the university is committed to providing a space for the free exchange of ideas, whether or not it agrees with those ideas,” it said.

Meanwhile, the council of the university said an independent appeal and review committee, which was tasked to review the institution’s decision to remove Dlamini as the SRC president found that the university had acted accordingly.

“On the first charge the … committee confirmed the finding of the Student Discipline Committee that he was guilty of misconduct. The committee did not uphold a second charge relating to another 2014 incident,” the university said.

The 2014 incident relates to an incident where Dlamini was alleged to have assaulted another student.

Speaking to News24 in May, Dlamini said he did not regard the incident as an assault.

“That is what the university is not telling the public, I fought with another student, we physically fought, it was not an assault,” he said at the time.

He said he and the other student made peace and forgave one another shortly after the incident, but that the university decided to pursue the matter anyway.

“It happened in January 2014. [The case] didn’t sit up until I took office.”

The review committee upheld the vice chancellor’s decision to remove him from the Student Representative Council. Dlamini however, would remain a student at Wits. – News24

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