Fw: DEBATE: UDW Massacre-from Richard Pithouse

Russell Grinker grinker at SPAMmweb.co.za
Wed May 17 10:44:22 MDT 2000

>From: RICHARD PITHOUSE <pithouse at pixie.udw.ac.za>
>Subject: Yes, the cops have murdered two UDW students
>Hey, good people
>This has to be very short because it's one of those days when the email
>can't run for more than a minute or two without crashing. But, yes it is
>true, the police have killed two of our students. We've been told that a
>third is fighting for his life in hospital.
>I was at home yesterday with the kind of 'flu that makes you shiver and
>sweat but trusted colleagues who were right there at the time tell me that
>the police officer on last night's news lied when he said that the police
>acted to prevent a hijacking. I've been told that a small group of about
>50 students were attacked as they fled from the police. I've also been
>told that the first student to die was just passing by. That's right he
>was just passing by when he was shot, at point blank range, in the chest
>with a rubber bullet.
>Of course we don't expect much from the Durban police. After all its no
>secret that the police control the drug trade in this city and it was just
>a couple of weeks ago that a young girl accused of shoplifting was
>brutally gang raped at the Phoenix police station. Let me repeat that -
>it's just a couple of weeks since a teenage girl was brutally gang raped
>in a police station by police officers. Nevertheless we still don't
>expect the police to murder our young people like this.
>After all the strike against the exclusion of students who can't pay their
>fees is an annual event. The worst case scenario is that a couple of
>students spend a night in prison. This year the boycott did include a
>number of other issues like the retrenchment of 33 members of staff; the
>closure of 5 'unprofitable' departments (including Music and Fine Art);
>the failure of the University to provide lecturers for the (fully paid up)
>dentistry students and the University's apartheid style restriction of
>basic civil rights - like the right to hold a meeting. And of course the
>academics are more alienated from the management that ever before. But
>despite all this it didn't occur to anyone that our students were about to
>be murdered.
>Now two of our students are dead and a third is struggling for his life in
>some soulless hospital. We've come together to cover the blood stains with
>flowers and to say whatever it is that works for us - whether its
>appealing to Jesus, Amadhlosi or quoting Yeats. But we all, professors and
>cleaners, felt the need to invoke the memory of what it was we struggled
>for. And it sure as fuck wasn't for this. The Soweto uprising did not
>happen for this, people did not stare down their torturers for this,
>people did not did not go to prison and die for this.
>I remember the outrage when students were injured, just injured, by the
>boere and their birdshot at UND in 1989. There was a huge protest at UNP
>the following day and over 400 students were arrested. That was 11 years
>ago - in the last days of apartheid but in the midst of all sorts of other
>systemic and episodic outrages. If we are going to retain any humanity we
>have to be a lot more angry, and, yes, UNFORGIVING, this time. A life is
>still a life and a system is still a system and a killer is still a
>I know that Senegelse traders are getting their heads split open in Cape
>Town and that MDC acticvists are being murdered in Zimbabwe and that every
>day the rich are get richer while the poor are sink into deeper
>desperation but if we can't be angry about this and if we can't channel
>that anger into positive action then we're not good enough to deserve a
>decent society.
>This will probably sound as trite as all hell but if this disaster can
>inspire us to demand that people are called to account - to demand that
>life and death are taken seriously - to demand that the powerful don't fob
>us off with flashy press conferences; technical jargon and smooth cliches
>then maybe something good can come out of this. We can't be complacent
>when 1 in 4 pregnant women has AIDS; jobs are lost everyday and the police
>murder our young people for asking an awkward question like: "Why must I
>denied eduction just becuase my parents are poor?"

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