Yesterday (March 9) a pro-abortion group attacked, vandalised and stole from the stall of Students for Life at the University of Cape Town at Orientation Week.
Wandile Mhlongo UCT Students for Life chairperson said: “Such intolerant acts need be exposed for what they are. We are in a period whereour freedom of speech, opinion and expression are being highly undermined by individuals and groups of differing opinions.
“I believe they have a right to oppose us to some level, however the way that has been carried out hasinfringed on our own rights to run a legitimate student society. Theharassment and theft we have experienced need be accounted for.”
At around 3pm at the end of a successful three day campaign, which included hundreds of civil discussions, three female students arrived and became increasingly rude. One of these, apparently the disruption organiser, had the previous day said she didn’t believe the society should be allowed at the university. As insults increased, the pro-life students spoke less to try to de-escalate the tension, but this did not calm the women.
The organiser then left to fetch five men, of which four wore black T-shirts, associated with the EFF, “Black First-Land First” (BLF), and Pan-African movement, who behaved as if under the influence of alcohol. Four empty beer bottles were found where they had been at the UCT war memorial.
Some of the disrupters were not students. As the arguments of the pro-abortion group became louder, a crowd of around 60 students gathered from neighbouring stalls and joined the argument. The BLF/pro-abortion group accused the pro-life team,who happened to also be black ‘if the whites had given them land’. A white passer by, who attempted to defend the pro-life view was shouted down.
(Ironically polls show black South Africans much more strongly opposed toabortion than white people).
The five pro-abortion men then began tearing up the pro-life posters which were taped on the ground and dismantled the society’s shade gazebo. They also shouted obscenities at the black pro-life students for “working with whites”.
Students for Life, while majority black and black-led, is multiracial,while the opposing BLF group, while including those of mixed heritage said they did not allow whites.
The pro-abortion women then joined in the verbal abuse and vandalism. After taking down the stall, the group of nine pro-abortionists then occupied the society-demarcated square and demanded the pro-life students leave.
By this time, the university administration and security had arrived, but while not approving the violence, advised Students for Life to leave and to submit statements to the university. Since the pro-life group were about to leave anyway, and for the sake of peace, they packed up.
The woman who instigated the riot, wearing blue and white, then made a threat to the effect “consider this a warning — next time it will be worse”.
During the attack, a box containing pamphlets, student academic work, clothing and personal belongings went missing. The disruptive group were asked to return it, but did not — and the pro-life students realised that if they continued to confront, the situation might get out of hand. Students for Life wants the box back.
Students for Life has been on University of Cape Town Campus since 1993, with much lively debate, but no violence before. No one involved in the disruption had come to discuss or debate at the stall and none of the hundreds of students who did visit the stall had made any threats or insults.
Yesterday, also for the first time, some society anti-euthanasia posters were removed from medical campus. Today’s pro-abortion group were clearly different in their intolerance.
Disturbingly another student society also was violently attacked yesterday at Wits campus — and a few weeks back a speaker, on UCT partner campus, University of Berkeley California, was prevented from speaking due to a riot.
The Orientation pro-life campaign was a success with numerous students joining; about 10 other supportive student societies inviting Students for Life to speak at their meetings and thousands of pamphlets distributed.
Opposing counter-arguments at the stall were recorded and will be answered on the Students for Life web site at www.studentsforlife.co.za
A number of onlookers took pictures of the disruption with theirsmartphones. Anyone who has information or photographs is asked to please email these to firstname.lastname@example.org