UCT condemns 'divisive' language in paper signed off with 'one settler, one bullet'

07 November 2018 - 15:00 By Nico Gous
subscribe Just R20 for the first month. Support independent journalism by subscribing to our digital news package.
Subscribe now
UCT vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng
UCT vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng
Image: Esa Alexander

University of Cape Town (UCT) vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng has congratulated a student on his honours project in which he ended his acknowledgements with the phrase‚ “ONE SETTLER‚ ONE BULLET!!”

Phakeng tweeted on Tuesday evening: “Congratulations dear son on completing this paper! I would like to study it at some stage. In the meantime‚ let me be kliye [sic]: I am proud of you! Way more than you can imagine! Welldone! [sic]”

Phakeng later withdrew some of her praise on Wednesday morning after some were outraged.

“Of course I can never be proud of promises of bullets‚ what [I] am proud of is the fact that you did the paper and completed it! I know how hard you worked. I am definitely proud that you finally clicked it off for assessment.”

UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola said Phakeng was congratulating the student on completing his honours degree and applying for a Master of Arts degree.

“She has specifically distanced herself from threats of violence as contained in the acknowledgements section of the student’s dissertation shared on social media‚ stating that she could never be proud of promises of violence.”

On Tuesday evening‚ Masixole Mlandu tweeted a couple of pages from his politics honours research project‚ titled “The Coloniser/Colonised dialectic: A look into the Settler-Colonialism as a socio-economic order of South Africa”.

In the acknowledgements‚ he thanked friends‚ family and his advisor‚ Professor Lwazi Lushaba‚ before ending: “Lastly‚ let me thank the Pan Africanist student movement in occupied Azania. Your fight for the total emancipation of Black people will never be forgotten. Izwe Lethu‚ iAfrika!! (Our land‚ Africa!!) ONE SETTLER‚ ONE BULLET!!”

Mlandu told Phakeng: “Thank you‚ mother. This paper would not be possible without your words of encouragement. We are moving on to MA [masters] now.”

Phakeng replied: “Yasss! MA here we come!”

According to the abstract‚ the project argues that SA is a settler-colonial society that was built and maintained through conquest.

“The settler and the natives’ relationship is a construction which orders its identity through violence‚” writes Mlandu.

The paper aims to understand how this relationship is sustained.

Mlandu argues that “there is something that sustains the relationship between the native and the settler apart from the economic disparities between the two”.

“This is not to say that the material inequalities between the two are not important‚ but it is to say that‚ that is not sufficient enough to explain what governs the two portraits of the coloniser and the colonised.”

UCT distanced itself and condemned the language which it called “divisive and in our view not constructive”.

Moholola said: “Language such as this does not advance our vision of an institution that is inclusive and committed to social justice issues … We live in a constitutional democracy‚ where freedom of speech is enshrined in our constitution. Individuals must take personal responsibility for exercising that right.”

subscribe Just R20 for the first month. Support independent journalism by subscribing to our digital news package.
Subscribe now