Fifteen students are currently under investigation by the university following their involvement in the fight that broke out at what was supposed to be a Student Representative Council (SRC) debate on August 18.
“The investigative and suspension process will be concluded before the end of September,” said Shirona Patel, communications officer from Wits. She also said that the people who are under investigation are from the Economic Freedom Fighters, Progressive Youth Alliance and Project W.
But of these fifteen students, only seven students have been suspended, the majority of whom are members of Wits EFF. Lwazi Lushaba, a PhD student and Mcebo Dlamini, the former president of the SRC have also been suspended.
The Wits EFF students suspended were Koketso Poho, Mbe Mbehele, Ayabulela Mhlahlo, Tebogo Mabese, and Vuyani Pambo. All seven students are contesting their suspensions.
The Mail and Guardian reported that Lushaba received a letter from the university which based his affiliation with the EFF on tweets that he posted in support of the group’s agenda. Lushaba was quoted in the article saying that the fighting that happened at the debate was, “fairly proportionate to the intensity or pulse of the political contestation [that] erupted on the stage of the Great Hall, aborting what was supposed to be an SRC Election debate among different contending parties.”
According to Wits EFF, the university also used comments the student’s had made on social media as part of the reason for their suspension.
According to a statement released by the university, those who were suspended were punished for their disruption of the debate proceedings. This means that candidates who were suspended agreed and signed and an electoral code of conduct. The university said the candidates who disrupted the debate by protesting, breached this code of conduct.
Patel said the other eight under investigation did not have immediate action taken against them because they promised to shun violence during a meeting with the university council, whereas the seven suspended students refused.
On Monday another fight broke out at an election circus between members of the PYA and Project W at Education Campus. The Wits Vuvuzela contacted the university to find out about what action would be taken against these students and a response was not sent during the time of publication.