Suspended sentences for Fort Hare students

Three University of Fort Hare students who were suspended for taking part in demonstration that sought to remove Nursing Sciences acting head, have received suspended sentence.

Student leaders Ntsikelelo Macingwane, Ongezwa Mangati and Yonela Gxothiwe were charged with damage to property and improper conduct on university premises, which led to disruption of proper conduct of work of the university by engaging in an illegal gathering and demonstration.

Sonwabiso Mamkeli, who is one of those representing the three students, said he was happy with the outcome of the disciplinary hearing. “We were advocating for them to receive a suspended sentence,” he said.

The three students with more than 300 nursing students engaged in demonstrations in their department is a call to remove their acting head, Ntombana Rala.

The department was then closed and students ordered to bring their parents or guardians.

However, there was just a handful that brought their parents or guardians.

The call for Rala’s removal has seen academic programmes being disrupted at the university’s East London campus.

The university said their investigation had found nothing against Rala, and could not be suspended or fired.

Disruption of classes continued and the university obtained a court interdict in an attempt to bring things to normal. To date, students are still on a stayaway saying their call for Rala’s removal still stands.

Hundreds of students are currently in a mass meeting to discuss a way forward.

One of the reasons they embarked on the stayaway was they wanted the management to lift the suspension of the three students.

But with Rala still in her position it is not clear whether the students will agree to go back to classes.

“If we agree to return to class while Rala is still there, that would mean the whole month of calling for her removal was in vain. We cannot back down now,” said one student who did not want to be named.

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