'Racist bouncers' to blame for clashes at Varsity Cup game - NMU students
Johannesburg - Nelson Mandela University students say the chaos that resulted in the stoppage of a Varsity Cup game on Monday evening was the fault of management and their "racist bouncers".
Speaking to News24 on Tuesday, Sasco chairperson Tshwarelo Sonti and SRC president Bamanye Matiwane claimed that students had been provoked by racist bouncers and were forced to retaliate.
Sonti, who led the Sasco intervention at the game, said that four of their members had been attempting to speak to the director of sport in the coach's box.
"Sasco never planned any violence. What we wanted was for management to take concerns seriously," he said.
Sonti told News24 that they had been blocked by bouncers who had told them to move away from the coach's box, after they tried to "engage" with the sports department.
"The school has a policy that we have direct access to management, so it cannot be that when we want to engage management we are going to be blocked by external security, as if we are a threat."
The situation became tense when a bouncer pushed him, which angered the other Sasco members, he added.
"They started to hit us, punch us and slap us. Obviously when one is in that situation they are bound to hit back. They were throwing racist remarks at us and all the bouncers were white. As management, you can't unleash bouncers when students are coming to you," he added.
NMU spokesperson Zandile Mbabela said that the matter was under investigation by both the police and university protection services.
"All available evidence is being collated and will form part of the investigation process. Due process needs to unfold as we work to speedily conclude the matter."
Sonti has claims that this is not the first time bouncers from the same security company have assaulted students. Sasco said its members only wanted to know from coaches why black players were being left out of the squad.
"Key black players are not part of the squad. They are reporting to the SRC that they are facing racism. Our team continues losing, but we have key black players that are not given a chance."
Matiwane backed Sonti, saying that students had felt provoked by the bouncers. He told News24 that university management had ignored their request to meet with them over transformation of sport at the institution.
"We are in the process of doing mediation with bouncers and students. We can never have a fight between bouncers and students. Bouncers are supposed to stop students when there is a fight. If this continues, it will mean the university is going to be in chaos," Matiwane said.
The SRC is also planning to call for an immediate meeting with the SRC, representatives of Sasco and sport management to discuss transformation, he said.