Sasco remains a suspended society

 

Ditebogo Tshaka

On 23 January, Sasco Tukkies Branch was temporarily suspended as a society of UP. According to a letter issued to the society by the SRC, the temporary suspension comes following Sasco’s failure “to adhere to a direct order prohibiting [the] society and its members from participating in the 2018 registration period” at UP’s Hillcrest Campus. Together with the above reason, Sasco was said to have failed to produce a Managerial Report that was requested by the SRC Member for Societies, Obakeng Sepeng, on 11 October 2017 by email. It also failed to supply the same report at an SRC Societies Sub Council meeting that took place on 18 October 2017. The report in question was received on 8 November 2017. On 23 March 2018, Sasco instituted proceedings against the SRC with regards to this matter. They requested an adjudication process between their party and the SRC. The adjudication was held on 3 May in the Graduate Centre L1-68 from 09:00 to 18:00 and was chaired by the Constitutional Tribunal. Here, evidence was heard. Sasco had made four contentions, namely, that the “SRC President acted ultra vires[beyond the powers] in issuing the notice of withdrawal … [and that the] Societies Officer [Sepeng] failed administratively to carry out his duties in terms of Societies Sub Council Constitution…[and] failed administratively to collect managerial reports in a consistent and accountable manner”.

According to Constitutional Tribunal documents, they also expressed administrative issues regarding the SRC Executive. They argued that “the SRC Secretary [Soraia Machado] and Society officer infringed upon their duty to provide information in terms of section 15(2) of the [CSG]”. With the last contention of “having to entertain the grounds of the expulsion as per the letter the following statements can be made”, Sasco arugued that “a flag is a form of expression and thus by not allowing any student with a flag on campus can be said to infringe their freedom of expression”. They held that if the flag brought disrepute to the SRC, then SRC should have removed the flag themselves. “As the SRC failed to act in any way to restore their ‘disrepute’ it can be said that the SRC had indeed contributed to their ‘image being in disrepute’,” Sasco expressed. Sasco held that Moloto “failed to engage Sasco after the lifting of the suspension by Prof Mosia [Vice-Principal of Student Affairs and Residences] and prior to the letter of expulsion.” They believed that this was important as it proved “there was no exchange of information in the ‘investigation’ that led to the expulsion of Sasco”. Sasco concluded that this “meant that the investigation was one sided and prejudiced, which acted in the sole interest of the SRC”. “If the SRC President were to act as a liaison, it would be between SASCO and the SRC Societies Officer (who has the duty to ‘expel’ and register societies) which was not so as the SRC President has issued the expulsion letter,” they stated.  On 14 May, the final judgement for the adjudication was announced by the Tribunal at the Graduate Centre L1-56. On the first contention, Judge Johan Coertze of the Constitutional Tribunal found that the SRC Member for Societies does not have the power to withdraw the recognition of a society by the CSG. According to the CSG’s section 22 subsection 3(g), “In exercising its powers and functions the SRC must take reasonable steps to… subject to the provisions of this Constitution, to extend recognition to and withdraw recognition from any Society under its jurisdiction in accordance with the Society Sub-Council Constitution.” For the second contention, Judge Tineke Sinovich, held that the SRC’s intention was to keep the SRC Gazebo ‘apolitical’ during registration week, and that this “was a reasonable limitation on SASCO (UP)’s freedom of expression”. Addressing the fourth contention, Judge Munozovepi Gwata found “SASCO (UP) had not been able to prove on a balance of probabilities that the SRC did not follow the procedures as set out in the Constitution for Student Governance. The SRC voted unanimously to withdraw the recognition of SASCO (UP) as a society”. Gwata noted that “SASCO (UP) should have focussed on the effects of their withdrawal on the students instead of the effects on the society”. “For the reasons mentioned above, the honourable panel dismissed the instituting party’s claims. The withdrawal of SASCO (UP) by the SRC as a society has not been lifted by the Constitutional Tribunal for the reasons set out above,” said Klopper. Moloto said that he is very pleased with the Constitutional Tribunal’s findings and glad that his name was cleared. “Since becoming SRC President in 2017, I have never acted unconstitutionally or used my position to settle political scores. SASCO UP’s ban was a result of their conduct over the course of the 2018 registration period, which included intimidation of SRC members and UP staff, a shutdown of LC [Hillcrest] campus as well as a continued unwillingness to abide by rules and regulations put in place by the SRC”, he said. When asked if there is a possibility that Sasco UP will be recognised as a UP society in 2018, Moloto said, “SASCO UP will not be a registered UP society until March 2019. The 2017/2018 UP SRC is against all forms of violence and intimidation.” When asked if they would appeal the Tribunal’s decision, Sasco UP Secretary Mishkah Sattar said, “At this point, we are in the process of discussions so I am not able to release or state anything regarding what our next act would be or whether we would appeal or not.” Sattar said that she would “like to assure students that, although the judgement is not what Sasco wished for, we as Sasco will still be running campaigns and programmes, for example the ‘Save the semester’ campaign as many others that would be communicated as soon as possible.”

 

Elmarie Kruger

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