THE University of the Witwatersrand’s controversial Student Representative Council (SRC) president Mcebo Dlamini has been removed from office, the institution’s vice-chancellor Adam Habib said on Monday.
Prof Habib said he had withdrawn a decision allowing Mr Dlamini to remain in office despite having been found guilty of misconduct in February.
The decision to strip Mr Dlamini of his position was not influenced by the recent controversy in which he expressed his admiration for Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, although this incident "could not be ignored" and would also be subject to inquiry, Prof Habib said.
Following a meeting with Mr Dlamini, the SRC president was given until the end of last month to make written representations showing why he should remain in his position.
Mr Dlamini had subsequently provided an argument citing delays in the legal process that put the university’s legal office at fault, which were "disingenuous" and pointed to delaying tactics, Prof Habib’s statement said.
In February Mr Dlamini was found guilty and handed a suspended sentence of exclusion from Wits for one year. That process related to charges of "assault" as well as to e-mails Mr Dlamini had sent to senior staff that were deemed insulting, campus newspaper Wits Vuvuzela reported at the time.
Mr Dlamini was then suspended from the SRC — but this suspension was lifted in March, Wits Vuvuzela reported. He subsequently grabbed headlines when he vigorously defended comments that he "loves Adolf Hitler". He later defended comments on radio and television that he admired the fascist leader’s "charisma and his capabilities to organise people".
Prof Habib said on Monday that this was a separate matter that had been referred to Wits’s legal office for investigation.
He believed the comments had brought the institution into disrepute and was threatening the credibility and prospects of past and future graduates.
"As someone who claims to love this institution, I believe that Mr Dlamini has single-handedly wrought more damage to its reputation than any other person I can think of in at least the last two decades."
Mr Dlamini could not be reached for comment on Monday, but had said in an open letter last week: "I fear that Wits University punishes black radical thought."