By: TMG Digital
A clash between #FeesMustFall (FMF) and activist women on the campus of the University of the Witwatersrand highlights an increasingly strident campaign against student leaders accused of being patriarchal and homophobic.
Two images of female protesters being restrained by male protesters are being circulated on social media‚ prompting angry outbursts.
Students named one of the men as being Chumani Maxwele‚ the poo-throwing Rhodes Must Fall activist from the University of Cape Town.
The Rhodes Must Fall@RhodesMustFall Twitter feed stated: “Wits men & Chumani Maxwele (red cap khakhi trousers) strangling a Black woman after saying "sthabane" (meaning a gay person). #NotMyFMF”.
The Rhodes Must Fall twitter handle also retweeted ‘Eish Black Pain’ as stating: “They were referrin to Thenjiwe as queer. She was attacked not simply as a womxn‚ but as a queer black one. #NotMyFMF”.
Maxwele was also accused of heavy handed tactics by the Honourable Spigga @TeaJay_001. She tweeted: “An image of Chumani Maxwele attempting to remove me. I asked to please leave my breast. #NOTMYFMF”.
“He was trying to drag me to beat me off camera‚ which he then did thanks.”
Honourable Spigga @TeaJay_001 continued: “Last year‚ put my body on the line for #FMF. This year‚ the patriarchs said this revolution isnt for bodies like mine”.
Wanelisa Xaba @blak_terrorist responded angrily. “We want him out the movement!!!!!!!!!!!!!!‚” She also posted this challenging statement: “#1Patriarch10Sjamboks”.
A photo of a sjambok was tweeted by Simamkele Dlakavu @simamkeleD with the message: “Black Feminists at Wits gave me this as a birthday gift ?????? #1patriarch10sjamboks”.
Simamkele Dlakavu @simamkeleD meanwhile shared an image of what appeared to be a scratch‚ stating: “Visible inflected scars on Wits Feminists who were simply asking why they were excluded from the space #FeesMustFall”.
The issue has been growing in student politics since last year.
“We condemn the exclusionary nature that queer bodies face in protest movements. Intersectionality is something that cannot be ignored‚” the Wits University solidarity network-for the LGBTIQA+ (Lesbian‚ Gay‚ Bisexual‚ Transgender‚ Intersex‚ Questioning‚ Queer‚ Asexual +) movement said in a statement.
The Wits Student Representative Council and Rhodes Must Fall movement claimed political agendas were behind the explicit exclusion of queer and feminist persons‚ following a closed meeting at the weekend.
“Political agendas‚ assault & patriarchy #NotMyFMF‚” the RMF tweeted.
The Wits SRC stated: “We are greatly concerned about a meeting called over the weekend without inclusion of all vital groups &student governance structures at Wits. “There are indeed elements of political opportunism that have taken hold #Wits.
“The exclusion from the meeting is evidence of the patriarchal erasure of transgender &black feminist voices who have been instrumental #Wits.
“These groups and students who were excluded have been active and were among the first to start the protests at #Wits.
“The exclusion of all stakeholders is evidence that (Monday’s) actions cannot be seen as non-partisan or in the best interests of students.”
In March‚ the opening of a Rhodes Must Fall exhibition in Cape Town was disrupted by transgender activists.
The exhibition sought to commemorate the anniversary of the Rhodes Must Fall movement's formation. Members of UCT's The Trans Collective - which supports rights of transgender‚ gender non-conforming and intersex students - stormed into the gallery stark naked and smeared the photographs at the exhibit with red paint.
The group complained via its Facebook page about a lack of representation of transgender students in the exhibition‚ labelling it as "a spectacular show of false inclusivity".
“For the Trans Collective‚ the commemorations that are happening at this time invite us to reflect on both the decolonial year that has been and the years that are to come. In our reflection we have found that as black‚ poor‚ queer‚ womxn and non-binary trans people our position in the decolonial theory and practice is unchanged.”
Wits University management‚ meanwhile‚ said Tuesday classes are continuing as normal “after politically orchestrated protests disrupted campus activities”.
The Wits Senior Executive Team condemned “the behaviour of the approximately 150 individuals who disrupted lectures and started a fire in an empty lecture theatre on the Braamfontein campus”.
“We believe that (Monday’s) protest is a politically orchestrated campaign with larger national objectives. The individuals who addressed the student groups ... were from Wits‚ other universities in Gauteng‚ the Western and Eastern Cape and some political parties.”
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