Koketso Ngwenya

On 18 October 2017, SRC member for Marketing Media and Communications Kyle Goosen apologised in a Facebook post for the use of a racial slur against SRC president Kwena Moloto by referring to him as a n***er during an SRC team building exercise. This incident took place on the night of 15 September 2017, the night before a Department of Student Affairs (DSA) camp when the SRC members were conducting a team building exercise. The use of a racial slur (N-word) occurred when the SRC was instructed to role play different stereotypical greetings of various nationalities. According to Kyle Goosen, the instructor then portrayed himself as an American gangster. Goosen then mimicked the instructor’s physical portrayal of a “typical” American gangster and said “what’s up my n***a” to Moloto.

A source who wished to remain anonymous reported the use of the racial slur to the DSA as per Section 27 (2) of the Constitution of Student Governance. The DSA referred the complaint to The Constitutional Tribunal for the Tribunal to carry out an investigation of the complaint in accordance with Section 27 (3) of the CSG. The Tribunal referred the matter back to the Director of Student Affairs, Dr Matete Madiba, and the outcomes mandated that Goosen should publicly apologise and that an internal disciplinary process be instituted by the SRC and overseen by Dr Madiba. On 27October 2017, Moloto confirmed to Perdeby that “a mediation process then ensued between Mr Goosen and the plaintiff [and that] the SRC will also be instituting an internal disciplinary” according to the recommendation made by the Tribunal. The Constitutional Tribunal Chief, Justice Antonie Klopper, said that the initial investigation into the nature of the complaint that was carried out by the Constitutional Tribunal of 2017 was not done diligently and that a mediation process was initiated instead. “The process of section 27 of the CSG and an internal disciplinary are two different processes.

The initial process of section 27 rather than the SRC Code of Conduct was, therefore, completed, as stipulated in section 27, in 2018 by the Director [of] Student Affairs,” said Klopper. The Constitutional Tribunal of 2017 recommended that Kyle Goosen make a public apology, which he made in a Facebook post and that the SRC institute an internal disciplinary process. However, according to Klopper, Section 27 of the CSG was initiated rather than the recommended internal disciplinary process that was to be instituted by the SRC. The recommendation made by The Constitutional Tribunal of 2017 that the SRC institute an internal disciplinary process did not take place. However, Section 27 states that upon receipt of the report of the investigation into the legality and nature of the complaint from the Constitutional Tribunal, the Director of Student Affairs then has to exercise her powers to make “an appropriate order”. “The Constitutional Tribunal has only given procedural advice and will always respect the decisions of the executive if they are taken within their powers and are procedurally fair,” Klopper said. The matter was initially not to be carried out as an internal disciplinary process since the complainant was not an SRC member.

“There are separate procedures for SRC members to handle internal disciplinary matters and for these you can refer to the SRC Code of Conduct,” Dr Madiba explained. “The context within which this referenced incident happened, and the circumstances within which it took place raised questions whether what was said should be read as a racial slur,” she said, referring to the role play Goosen was engaged in at the time. Dr Madiba told Perdeby that “After all deliberations were done the concerned SRC member had to commit to a programme to raise his level of consciousness. The process will be completed when [he] has carried [out] all the tasks in the programme”. “It is important that students and all members of the university community should treat each other with respect and dignity.

Racism in all its forms should not be tolerated,” said Dr Madiba. The order instituted by the Director of Student Affairs was welcomed by the Tribunal. Klopper said, “The Constitutional Tribunal is pleased with the outcome and is content that the procedure followed was fair and in accordance with section 27 of the Constitution for Student Governance.” Goosen told Perdeby, “I have been doing the remedies since they were prescribed to me last quarter and are continuing into this quarter, as certain remedies required appointments with academic individuals of this campus. The program is to be completed as per this semester and from then onwards the matter will be closed. From the program so far I have broaden my knowledge and understanding of the historical and the gross power such a word had in the past of especially in America and it’s racial history, in further to this that racial words cannot be seen as just country specific, especially in the world we live in today, where globally issues intersect with each other. [sic]”

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