Cape Town – The University of Cape Town’s Student Governance Court has found former SRC President, Karabo Khakhau, guilty of abusing SRC resources to defame other student leaders and that she brought the SRC into disrepute following a mass email she sent to the UCT student community after the 19 March SRC reshuffle.
On 19 March, the UCT SRC sat to decide on portfolio reassignments following a binding recommendation by the Student Parliament. The meeting was attended by all 15 members including the new member, Loyola Nyathi, who came in after the resignation of Emma Johannson who was the Treasurer General. At this meeting Mthobisi Mngomezulu (DASO) was elected the President of the SRC after Karabo Khakhau declined her nomination. Christopher Logan (DASO) was elected as the new Treasurer General at this meeting. The portfolios of Vice President, Labour, Secretary General, Deputy Secretary General, International Students and Undergraduate Students were shared among the EFFSC and PASMA. The rest of the portfolios: Student Advocacy, Sports & Recreation, Societies & Day, Social Responsiveness, Postgraduate Students and Residence and Housing were left vacant after six DASO members declined nominations.
Cracks within the DASO party were, at this stage, wide open with Logan and Mngomezulu in one faction, while six others, including Khakhau, constituted the other faction.
The mass email
Following this meeting, a disgruntled Khakhau sent a scathing letter to the student populace rejecting the reshuffle on behalf of the DASO UCT caucus. In her email, Khakhau blamed the reshuffle on the actions of two ‘delinquent DASO UCT members’ Logan and Mngomezulu aided by PASMA and EFFSC. Khakhau added that “Logan and Mngomezulu, despite getting the least number of votes amongst the DASO caucus during the SRC elections, have for a long time terrorized the DASO-UCT caucus and branch in their quest for power, and executive positions.”
Khakhau also mentioned that she and the rest of the DASO UCT would submit a complaint to the Constitutional Review Committee which in response gave the opinion that the meeting was constitutionally valid.
We understand that the matter is currently under the University’s Student Tribunal. This is a separate matter from the complaint laid by Logan and Mngomezulu to the Student Governance Court accusing Khakhau of abusing the mass email system for her own personal use and defaming them.
The ‘delinquents’ go to court
The two complainants, Logan and Mngomezulu, represented by Sinoxolo Boyi sought a declaratory order stating that the actions of the respondent (Khakhau) harmed the character, dignity and public image of the first and second complainant’s as student leaders. The relief sought was as follows:
a) A declaratory order stating that the actions of the respondent harmed the character, dignity and public image of the first and second complainant’s as student leaders.
b) A declaratory order stating that the actions of the respondent brought the office of the SRC into disrepute.
The SGC ruled that Khakhau had defamed Logan and Mngomezulu as student leaders and that she had brought the reputation of the SRC into disrepute as both complainants were members of the student body thus tarnishing their names and characters through the mass email which has an impact on public perceptions of the SRC as a whole. Khakhau was ordered to send another email, this time an apology to Logan and Mngomezulu no later than 17h00 of the fifth working day of the deliverance of the judgment.
Commenting on the verdict , Logan said that “the judgment is a victory for student leadership and accountability at UCT”.
Mngomezulu and Khakhau had yet to respond to our requests for comment at the time of publishing.
Read the full SGC judgment here.