Student lays into dean at graduation

04 April 2019 - 09:08
By Zoe Mahopo
A UJ student lashed at the varsity over alleged discrimination.
A UJ student lashed at the varsity over alleged discrimination.

A University of Johannesburg graduate who has accused the institution of racial discrimination wants to pursue the courts after he was barred from applying for his postgraduate studies.

Tshepo Goba, 24, caused disruptions during his graduation ceremony on Tuesday when he went on a tirade, accusing executive dean of the humanities faculty Professor Alex Broadbent of racism.

Goba said he had been fighting to get his academic transcripts since November but the university had refused to release them. He said Broadbent had pushed for his suspension last year by influencing management to charge him [Goba] with racism and suspend him.

Goba said Broadbent was one of the members of management who victimised black students for demanding transformation at the university.

"The immediate thing is to go to the high court because they don't want me to register for my postgraduate studies. I will have to raise the funds for court," he said.

Goba said he was moved to speak out because he believed the ceremony was pointless if people ascend to the stage without having access to their certificates.

He said at first, the university would not allow him and his mother to enter the hall on Tuesday because they were late.

A video clip that went viral on social media shows an outraged Goba making utterances while in full graduation regalia. In the video Goba can be seen standing next to Broadbent who was there to confer degrees.

"Today, students are suspended because of this man. I'm not a postgraduate student registered here because this man went and told management that I'm a racist. So we can't be here to be given orders by this racist," Goba said.

He walked away while still pointing at Broadbent, screaming "you are a racist". Goba was escorted off the stage by security guards.

Yesterday, Goba accused the university of targeting him and other students in the EFF Students Command because they spoke out against institutionalised racism.

"Graduation is supposed to be a symbol of joy but what is the point if you are not getting your actual degree? Right now futures have been destroyed. I don't know how many black students have been victimised by this institution," Goba said.

UJ spokesperson Herman Esterhuizen said Broadbent would not be able to comment on the incident. Esterhuizen said Goba's actions were unfortunate, saying there were other channels that he could have used to lodge a complaint.

"Instead of using the graduation [ceremony], the student resorted to grandstanding and playing to the gallery. The university condemns this type of behaviour in the strongest terms possible."

UJ has seen a number of racial tensions in its campuses over the years.

Last year, former UJ lecturer Professor Colin Chasi approached the Labour Court after accusing Broadbent of undermining his black colleagues and sabotaging transformation on campus.