UCT students stage sit-in over SRC member’s alleged gay ‘sin’ comments

Cape Town - University of Cape Town SRC chairperson Ramabina Mahapa said on Wednesday they have always supported the rights of minorities and specifically the gay community.

Around 20 UCT students staged a brief sit-in of the university’s SRC offices on Tuesday following controversial comments made by an SRC representative regarding LGBT rights.

UCT SRC vice-president Zizipho Pae caused controversy after posting a Facebook status on June 28, allegedly in connection with the US Supreme Court’s decision to extend universal marriage rights to the LGBTQ community in all 50 states.

Her post read: “We are institutionalising and normalising sin. May God have mercy on us.”

Mahapa confirmed on Wednesday that Pae had been removed from her position as acting president of the university’s SRC Vacation Committee following the fallout from her post.

The SRC Vacation Committee is an interim body that oversees student affairs while students return home for the holiday break.

Mahapa stressed that the SRC always affirmed and supported the rights of the LGBT community, and did not support the comments made by Pae.

“We voted as a body for her removal as acting president of the Vacation Committee,” Mahapa told News24 on Wednesday.

“We’ve always supported the rights of minorities and specifically the gay community. It is in our Constitution and we abide by the Bill of Rights.”

Pae has since been replaced by another student, Oyama Botha, on the SRC’s Vacation Committee.

The SRC proper will reconvene on July 13 after the holiday break, when a final decision will be made over Zae’s permanent position on the council as 'vice president external', Mahapa added.

Brief ‘sit-in’

Mahapa also confirmed that a group of students had staged a brief sit-in of the SRC’s offices on the campus to demand Pae’s removal.

“About 20 students from various organisations went to the SRC offices yesterday [Tuesday] at about 3pm,” he said.

“They included students from the Rhodes Must Fall campaign, Rainbow UCT and Sasco.

“They removed religious posters that she had had on the wall, and they demanded that she be removed from her post.”

The university meanwhile also weighed in on the subject, reaffirming its support for the gay community, but also making allowances for the freedom of expression for all its students.

 “For many years, the University of Cape Town has gone on record in support of the rights of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community,” UCT spokesperson Patricia Lucas said in a statement.

“Rainbow UCT is a vibrant and active voice in our campus community and plays a vital role in the transformation of the university.

“UCT also upholds the right of each individual to exercise responsible freedom of speech and to voice their own opinions in a respectful manner.”

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