SRC leader told to resign

2019-09-16 15:32
The UKZN Pietermaritzburg campus has come under criminal attack, with as many as 16 reported robberies and muggings taking place since the beginning of the year.PHOTO: supplied

The UKZN Pietermaritzburg campus has come under criminal attack, with as many as 16 reported robberies and muggings taking place since the beginning of the year.PHOTO: supplied

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A UKZN SRC president has been told to step down from the role after being found guilty of assaulting a woman lecturer.

Samkelo Gudazi, who is the president of the Pietermaritzburg campus SRC, was found guilty of contravening the provisions of the Rules for Students 2019. He was given a suspended sentence, which means that if he is found guilty of a similar offence again, he can be suspended from the university for five semesters. Conditions of the suspended sentence were that he was ordered to apologise “unconditionally” in writing to the lecturer concerned and complete a period of counselling for anger management.

Gudazi was also issued a “stern warning”, fined R2 500 and is “prohibited and barred” from holding office in an SRC body or any clubs or societies.

His conviction will be part of his academic record throughout his time at UKZN, and for two semesters more after he leaves.

But Gudazi last week told The Witness that he has not stepped down as president of the SRC nor issued an apology, saying he plans to appeal the decision.

He said he believed the university wanted to “set an example” by convicting him, and claimed he was actually trying to help the lecturer he had been accused of assaulting, after he heard her screaming during a student protest.

Gudazi was finally found guilty recently after a disciplinary hearing process that took nearly a year-and-a-half to finalise.

The lecturer who was assaulted no longer works at UKZN.

The Witness reported that UKZN was investigating this case when the initial complaint was laid.

That report was part of a series of allegations that students at the campus were attacking their lecturers when students failed their modules or were prevented from sitting exams.

Gudazi said he was found guilty of the crime “on the balance of probability, rather than beyond a reasonable doubt”.

“According to their sentence, they said … they can’t prove it was me. However, because I was there it was said [I was guilty] on a a balance of probability. So they can’t prove beyond reasonable doubt that I assaulted the lecturer.

“But because I’m on the SRC and I’m known, I was sentenced without a proper investigation,” he said.

Gudazi said there were other students at the scene, but they were not investigated. He claimed that during the hearing the lecturer concerned was given photos of the entire SRC unit but failed to point Gudazi out as the culprit.

He claimed on the day in question he in fact approached the lecturer after hearing her screaming during a student protest, and went to help out.

“I was there with so many students. There was an examination or something taking place … we heard a scream, someone shouting ‘help, help’. When I got there the lecturer was crying ... and I was there as the SRC [president] trying to resolve the matter.”

Gudazi then claimed another lecturer at the scene who recognised him, and with whom he had “so many issues”, later fingered him as the culprit.

He said he will appeal the sentence. “I am very frustrated ... In our university, if you try to speak out you are victimised.”

UKZN declined to provide any details, saying disciplinary processes were confidential. “We are unable to disclose any information or outcomes regarding the proceedings,” said spokesperson Ashton Boderick.

Lee Stone, the chairperson of the board of directors for Agenda Feminist Media, felt the sentence was light.

“A five-semester [suspended] expulsion is just two-and-a-half years. In other institutions people get expelled for a full five years for something like plagiarism.

“Assault violates a person’s dignity, but maybe the circumstances of the case meant that this sentence was given.

“I still think it is quite lenient. Someone in that position [SRC president] should lead by example and shouldn’t resort to violence.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  ukzn

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