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WATCH | UJ under fire after student 'strangled' and then 'bounced' from graduation

The University of Johannesburg says it will not tolerate threats to the safety of its students, staff and visitors.
The University of Johannesburg says it will not tolerate threats to the safety of its students, staff and visitors.
Image: Google

The University of Johannesburg has come under fire after a video of a student who was "strangled" and denied entry to a graduation ceremony surfaced on social media.

In the video, a student dressed in a graduation gown can be seen lying on the ground, surrounded by people. A woman urges people to move away as she prays for him.   

The incident happened on Wednesday. After the ordeal, the student was reportedly hospitalised.   

Speaking about the incident on Twitter, the student, Phasoane Mphahlele, said: “I just came out of hospital at Garden City because [VC, Tshilidzi Marwala,] unleashed bouncers on me on my graduation day. They ... say I insulted them on Facebook,” he wrote.

In its defence, the university said Mphahlele had threatened to disrupt the graduation ceremony, harm people and property. 

“Closer to the day of the graduation ceremony, the threat of disruption escalated to be the threat of violence, harm to persons and property,” said senior communications manager Lebogang Seale.

“In its assessment, the university decided to apply strict access control to campus and the venue of the graduations to ensure that every person and property at our premises are safe and secured."

Seale said it was clear Mphahlele had no intention of heeding the university’s call for him to cooperate, as he had started a demonstration inside the venue.

“It is quite unfortunate that anyone would want to resort to any actions that seek to infringe on the rights of other students and staff...  The university has various avenues for students to raise whatever grievances they might have,” the university said.

It was not the first time that a graduation ceremony was disrupted at the institution this year. 

Earlier in April, a Bachelor of Arts graduate took to the podium, but refused to be conferred with his degree. He accused the institution of racism. He was removed from the premises by security.

Following the incidents there have been calls to remove "violent bouncers" from the premises. 

“Regarding the calls for the removal of security personnel at the university, the university is often compelled to implement heightened security measures as and when situations arise that could place the safety of staff, students and university property at risk," said Seale.

He said the university often deployed additional security personnel when it received "sensitive information pertaining to planned actions of disruptions and violence which necessitates a rearrangement of existing security measures at short notice".    

“The safety of students, staff and visitors was of paramount importance and the university remains committed to ensuring that this is adhered to at all times, and any action that seeks to endanger this will under no circumstances be tolerated,” added Seale. 

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