South African Student Let Off Hook for 'Hitler' Remark

The University of the Witwatersrand said in a statement Tuesday that its legal office “found that Mr. [Mcebo] Dlamini’s utterances did not breach the exceptions to the Constitution regarding freedom of speech.”

Although there were grounds for him to be charged for failing to meet his fiduciary requirements as president of the Students’ Representative Council, given the fact that he had already been removed from the position, the university “did not deem it appropriate to charge him in this regard,” while describing his remarks as “abhorrent,” The Mail and Guardian reported Wednesday.

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies, or SAJBD, the community’s representative body, said in a statement that the decision was relevant only with respect to the internal rules and procedures of the university and had no judicial relevance outside its confines.

“The SAJBD remains convinced that Mr. Dlamini’s comments are not protected by the Constitution and will continue to pursue the cases of hate speech that have been laid both with the South African police and with the SA Human Rights Commission,” it said in a statement.

Dlamini made headlines after a graphic appeared on his Facebook page in April comparing the Israeli government to the Nazi regime. “In every white person there is an element of Hitler,” he wrote.

He was subsequently ousted from his position, but Wits vice-chancellor Adam Habib said at the time that this was unrelated to his Hitler comments. Rather, Dlamini had been removed following a finding of misconduct against him by a disciplinary panel in February.

At the time of the Facebook post, Dlamini told the Wits newspaper Vuvuzela, “What I love about Hitler is his charisma and his capabilities to organize people. We need more leaders of such caliber.”

In defending his Facebook remarks, Dlamini said he was looking at “Hitler’s good side. Hitler managed to uplift the spirit of the German people.”

The Wits statement said it was “embarrassed” that a member of its community could have made such remarks. “However, given its commitment to freedom of speech as espoused in the Constitution, the university is committed to providing a space for the free exchange of ideas, whether or not it agrees with those ideas,” it said.


Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

South African Student Let Off Hook for 'Hitler' Remark

Thank you!

This article has been sent!