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Fees must fall activist graduates, a day after being suspended

Controversial Fees Must Fall activist Bonginkosi Khanyile graduated with a Degree of Bachelor of Technology in Public Management at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) on Friday — a day after he was suspended for a month for taking part in violent student protests.

Khanyile‚ who rose to the chant of struggle song Solomon - a tribute to MK cadre Solomon Mahlangu who was hanged by the apartheid government at the age of 23 in 1979 - was slapped with a suspension letter by the university on Thursday.

The student protests last month related to the non-payment of National Student Financial Aid Scheme allowances. It resulted in damage to university property and left four students injured after they were shot by rubber bullets.

There was tight security at Friday’s graduation ceremony‚ with a number of private security personnel deployed around the venue and at strategic places.

After his graduation‚ Khanyile told TimesLIVE that he was very proud of his achievement. He added that he would continue with his studies as he had been inspired by Economic Freedom Fighters leaders such as Julius Malema‚ who graduated with a BA-Honours Degrees in Philosophy at Unisa last year.

“I’m still registered and I am still going to pursue my studies. Remember we’re inspired by the great leaders‚ the CIC Julius Malema who was able to study even when others said he failed woodwork‚” he said.

But he was livid about his suspension and the decision by DUT to deny access to his graduation some of the EFF leaders‚ like Mbuyiseni Ndlozi‚ because of security reasons.

“We are dumbfounded because the university is in a state of chaos as we are graduating. I received a suspension letter from this campus and there was also an attempt that we don’t come here and graduate. The system is very harsh. The campus is militarised. We have private security as if we are in exile‚” he said.

“Mbuyiseni Ndlozi was denied access to this university because of security reasons. Our national leaders who were supposed to be here were denied access by the university because they said there were security threats‚ which we don’t know where they come from. The new vice-chancellor is a very reactionary fellow. He has serious tendencies.”

Khanyile also accused the university of refusing to give refunds to students despite a declaration of free tertiary education.

DUT's senior director of corporate affairs‚ Alan Khan‚ didn't immediately respond to queries about the suspension and Ndlozi not being allowed at the graduation.

Khanyile’s mother‚ Phumzile Khathini‚ who was there to lend support‚ said she was very happy that her son was continuing with his education‚ especially because he spent some time in prison.

“I thought he would be discouraged but instead he is moving forward. I feel like jumping because I see he has a lot of courage. Education is the key and without education you’re nothing‚” she said.

Khanyile‚ who led Fees Must Fall protests at DUT‚ was arrested for being part of protests at DUT two years ago. He was denied bail on several occasions and was only released after taking his matter to the Constitutional Court in March last year.

He graduated with a National Diploma in Public Management and Economics summa cum laude‚ despite spending six months in jail.

A group of EFF supports taunted private security personnel who were deployed on campus on Friday and some of them were heard shouting “Voetsek” to them as the toyi-toyied and sang provocative songs towards them but they stood their ground and prevented them from making their way to the foyer.

- TimesLIVE

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