Dear colleagues and students
The past week has been a very difficult one, not only for us at the University of Cape Town (UCT) but also for the rest of South Africa.
In the same week that we were struggling to come to grips with the tragic passing of Uyinene ‘Nene’ Mrwetyana, our country was gripped by another wave of xenophobic violence. Over the weekend these attacks escalated in and around Johannesburg as well as other areas around the country. The scenes of violence and destruction are deeply disturbing.
We must advocate, demand and defend an environment of respect for others irrespective of their culture, race, religion or nationality. The dignity and human rights of all people is non-negotiable and must be a value we all hold dear and live by.
UCT is an exceptionally diverse campus, and we are proud of the range of different voices, opinions and cultures represented here. We are very fortunate to have as part of our community students and staff from all over our continent and from all over the world.
These fellow students and colleagues add significant value to our academic enterprise, the student experience and our identity as a community and as an institution. Their presence adds to the institution’s wide range of skills, knowledge, diversity and insights. It also strengthens our ability to advance knowledge and be truly diverse in our perspectives.
As an institution we condemn acts of xenophobia and we will maintain zero tolerance for any such behaviour. It is criminal, disgraceful and inhumane. It violates the law, the Constitution and the values we adhere to as an institution.
I trust that as individual members of the UCT community we will all make clear in our communications and our behaviour that xenophobia has no place on our campus or the spaces we happen to be in, whether that is in our close community engagements or in wider society.
I know you will make sure that our international colleagues and students feel appreciated, supported and safe.
They are us and we are them.
Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng
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