UCT protesters sorry for Nazi posters, march to go on

2015-03-20 11:10
Nazi swastikas plastered on the pillars of Jameson Hall at the University of Cape Town. (Scott Haig-Roberts, Supplied)

Nazi swastikas plastered on the pillars of Jameson Hall at the University of Cape Town. (Scott Haig-Roberts, Supplied)

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Cape Town - UCT students involved with the use of Nazi imagery during the ongoing 'Rhodes Must Fall' campaign have apologised for using the symbols, ahead of another planned protest march taking place this Friday at the campus.

On Wednesday, posters bearing the face of Adolf Hitler and large swastikas were found plastered on the pillars of Jameson Hall on UCT’s upper campus, before being taken down by concerned students later that morning.

The South African Union of Jewish Students told News24 on Thursday that the posters were used by students organising the ‘Black Monday’ campaign, intended as a protest against the continued presence of the statue of Cecil John Rhodes on the campus.

The move was intended for members of the white community to understand the pain felt by some black students at the university in their campaign to have the Rhodes statue removed.

Other international symbols, including that of the Klu Klux Klan, Confederation Flag and ISIS, were also going to be used to stress the protesters' point.

The use of Nazi imagery, though, came under fire from various sections of the Jewish community on Thursday, with the students involved in the 'Black Monday' campaign since issuing an apology.

"I can confirm that Black Monday put up posters of Adolf Hitler and the swastika on the pillars of the Jameson Hall on Wednesday afternoon. This was done as part of a campaign to challenge structural white supremacy at the University," Black Monday representative Busisiwe Mkhumbuzi told News24.

"We are aware that the swastika has been used to incite violence against the Jewish community, and have apologised to the complainants if our actions were interpreted as being anti-semitic. Black Monday is not anti-semitic, and we condemn the use of the swastika to incite any kind of violence.

"However we do not regret our actions, and have provided sufficient context to the use of symbols of evil as a tool to appeal to the non-white community to support the Rhodes Must Fall campaign."

'Exercise care'

The University of Cape Town, meanwhile, condemned the use of anti-Semitic symbolism to make a political point on Thursday, urging students to exercise care when expressing their views.

"UCT takes note of the statement issued by Black Monday, which includes an apology for posting pictures of the swastika and Hitler on campus," Gerda Kruger, executive director for communication at UCT said in a statement.

"Black Monday’s statement explains the group’s reason for using these images and contextualises the pictures and their use in the campaign to remove the Rhodes statue.

"The University of Cape Town urges all students and staff to respect one another and exercise care in their manner of expression. We condemn any action where people are intimidated and urge all to be sensitive to other people’s views."

Black Monday

A planned march organised by Black Monday will take place on Friday at the university’s lower campus, the latest in a series of protests against the continued presence of the Rhodes statue.

“We believe the Rhodes Must Fall campaign is a powerful cause that should be supported by society as a whole; however we have been met with division along racial lines,” UCT student Mkhumbuzi continued.

“Some students have been expressing their pain, while other students have been expressing complete and utter dissent.

“Black Monday realises that this dissent may be a result of a lack of understanding about what the Rhodes statue means for black students, and what the implications of Rhodes legacy is presently, in the lives of black people.

“The Rhodes statue is a colonial symbol that evokes black pain. We want people to accept that, and to engage the issue of transformation at that level. It is an honest shame that it had to come to a point where Black Monday used international symbols of evil to drive this point home,” Mkhumbuzi added.

The University is due to meet on 15 April to discuss the required action needed to address the issue.

Read more on:    uct  |  cape town  |  racism  |  cecil john rhodes  |  monuments debate  |  education

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