The recent killing of George Floyd in the USA at the hands of four police officers has led to global protests demanding justice for his murder. Similarly, in South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa recently expressed his “deepest regret” at the death of Collins Khosa and 10 other black South Africans during the extended national lockdown since 27 March; deaths allegedly at the hands of South African security forces.
President Ramaphosa has promised that these deaths will be investigated and that "We will spare no effort in ensuring those responsible will face the full might of the law." We trust that through government interventions we will never again see such acts of violence perpetrated against the people of South Africa by the very people who are meant to protect them.
#BlackLivesMatter is a civil rights movement that is currently fuelling protests and political action across the globe in the wake of George Floyd’s death and the deaths of other black Americans who have lost their lives as a result of police brutality and other measures implemented in the US.
The South African government has urged South Africans to support the movement, and South Africa and other countries across the globe have joined in solidarity with the struggle for social justice. In South Africa, protests have predominantly taken to social media platforms. While “digital fists” can contribute meaningfully to the fight for justice and show solidarity with a cause, contributors need to be careful to guard against their legitimate and just outrage becoming the very thing they are fighting against; namely crimes of racism, racial slurs or hate speech.
#BlackLivesMatter and other movements of this type do not advocate that racism and injustice be repaid with racism and injustice. These movements promote social justice in all its forms, with a particular emphasis on a call for reformation in the police systems and government legislation to enable equal access to social amenities for all.
The University of Pretoria rejects and condemns racism, unfair discrimination, hate speech and retaliation in all its forms, and commits itself to the eradication of these practices. Even as we continue to march toward a world free of institutionalised violence against black bodies, the UP community is urged to use social media platforms in a responsible manner and in accordance with the social media policy of the University.
Both George Floyd and Eric Garner, a black American who died while being arrested in the US in 2014, repeated the phrase “I can’t breathe” in their last moments.
We want to remind the UP community that when any person can't breathe and we look the other way, we in turn lose our humanity. We urge you to never turn a blind eye, and to report all discriminatory practices to the relevant people:
1. Security Services: [email protected];
2. Transformation Office: [email protected]
3. Your Faculty Dean or Director
May this tumultuous period in human history help us create a world of true equality for all.
Professor Tawana Kupe
Vice-Chancellor and Principal, University of Pretoria