Lawyers for the 11 Wits University students charged for protesting an Israeli-embassy funded concert have successfully argued for the postponement of the students’ disciplinary hearing. The disciplinary hearing will now take place on the 16th, 17th and 18th of July 2013.
The reasons for the new dates include the difficulty students faced in obtaining pro-bono legal representation. The Wits University Student Representative Council (SRC), unlike the Wits University Management (and the Israeli lobby that is pressuring the Wits University Management) do not have access to funds to employ advocates or attorneys and have been for the last few weeks trying to obtain pro-bono services.
Last week, the MLA made its services available, free of charge, to the 11 charged students. Defending cases against Palestine solidarity activists falls within the MLA’s mandate of supporting struggles of anti-racism and internationalism; including protests against Israel in support of the Palestinian plight.
The decision of postponement comes on the heels of two successful protest rallies organised in support of the Wits University SRC. The Wits University SRC would like to acknowledge and salute the close to 1000 students that came out in support of the Wits University SRC at a rally on Friday the 10th of May which was addressed by COSATU’s General Secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, together with the General Secretary of SADTU and representatives from SASCO, NEHAWU and the YCL (find photos here: http://tinyurl.com/l3ypadnhttp://tinyurl.com/l3ypadn).
The rally and address by Zwelinzima Vavi put forward a lot of uncomfortable questions to Professor Adam Habib who was at the protest rally (see: http://tinyurl.com/lldupku).
Zwelinzima Vavi said at the rally:
“[Wits] university seeks to demobilize the growing BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel] movement…we should applaud the student leadership of their bravery and conviction to defend and fight for justice, in particular their opposition to Israeli Apartheid, and voicing their frustration when any complicity is shown by the university authorities on their own campus.”
“We condemn the university’s response of targeting student leadership by charging them. This is not only wrong and undermines the fundamental right to protest, but an indication that the university dismisses the legitimate claims and demands of the students. Charging students for a non-violent protest goes against what Wits should be standing for, the Wits University Management should be ashamed for succumbing to external pressures.This university stood firm and rejected apartheid in our own country. Why should it remain silent or condone similar acts in other parts of the world? The growing global movement for the BDS is an inspiration to all who stand for justice, democracy and freedom from occupation and colonialism.” Find the full speech by Zwelinzima Vavi at: www.politicsweb.co.za/politicsweb/view/politicsweb/en/page71656?oid=376016&pid=71616&sn=Detail
Finally, students are deeply appreciative of the subsequent protest that took place on Monday the 13th of May at the Wits University Senate House Concourse by members of NEHAWU and the Workers Solidarity Committee where over 250 day-time workers and academics held a picket in support of the charged students as well as delivered a memorandum to Ms. Kirti Menon of the Wits University Management demanding that all charges against the students be dropped (see photos: http://tinyurl.com/kubzug3).