By Sinnenhlanhla Ngwenya (2 min read)
UJ Staff members and students marched silently yesterday from the UJ APK Arts Centre to the Madibeng Building to raise awareness against violence.
“We denounce the use of power in all of its forms to perpetuate inequality, unfair discrimination and abuse against women, LGBTQIA+, children and other living beings,” said Angina Parekh, a member of UJ’s executive committee, when speaking after the march at the Auckland Park Kingsway (APK) campus.
The march, which occurred simultaneously to those in the institution’s other three campuses, followed the gathering of UJ students on Wednesday, 4th September, for night vigils inspired by #AmINext.
Black, blurts of orange and red were the colours of the day with a tinge of traditional attire.
The marches were a stance against femicide in remembrance of the rape and murder of UCT student Uyinene Mretwyana, gestures of saying no to xenophobia, as well as the maltreatment of children and queer people.
In this silent protest, marchers carried different placards of vivid, black and bold text against a white background with messages such as, “Ons is gatvol”, “Stop femicide” and “My body, my choice”.
“When I learnt that today would be a silent march, I felt angry because in Africa we express ourselves in music,” said APK’s SRC Deputy Secretary Lebogang Prisca, who is also an industrial psychology student, after the march when addressing the participants.
“In Africa, we sing and we show the world how angry we are. In Africa, we don’t walk silent when issues like this are burning. In Africa, we speak,” she added.
“Senzeni nna?” she then sang fist in the air with the mellow voices of the crowd following suit.
“We are scared to even come to these campuses. Education is important and yes we believe in education, but how are we supposed to be believing in something and walk into that campus in fear that you might not make it into the campus,” she said.
UJ APK SRC brought forth a memorandum to the institution’s Management Executive Committee (MEC). It contained demands such student safety on- and off campus. The MEC was given 24 hours to respond.
Mxolisi Ngwenya, APK’s SRC Acting Chairperson, said that the protest was ineffective, and it seemed like they were advertising the University’s name.
According to Ngwenya, if the university cares about the welbeing of students, it should immediately respond to student issues in the provided memorandum.
“We want action and if there is no action, we’re going to deal with them. We are also going to take it to the streets,” said Ngwenya.
“One silent march won’t do. I’m not sure what I was expecting but this wasn’t it. I just feel like they were doing it for publicity,” said Mbali Obose, a third-year psychology student.
“They were doing it just so that it could be clear that UJ participated,” according to Viola Tsipa, a first-year education student. TOJ
Reporting by Sinnenhlamhla Ngwenya; Editing by Kupakwashe Kambasha & Gaby Ndongo.
Silent protesters at UJ APK walking from the UJ Arts Centre to Madibeng Building on Monday, 16th September.
Image courtesy to Vister Maswanganye.