A top student leader at the University of Cape Town (UCT) has been accused of posting homophobic comments on her Facebook page.
On Sunday, Zizipho Pae, the Acting President of the SRC (Student Representative Council), posted: “We are institutionalising and normalising sin! Sin. May God have mercy on us…”
Most of her followers understood her to be referring to the US Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday to legalise same-sex marriage in the USA.
Despite repeated requests from those who commented on her status, Pae has refused to clarify what she was referring to. While she received some support, she’s been largely lambasted for the comment.
Nomazizi Zed-i Dlamini wrote that, “as a black woman, fully aware of our history you should understand how painful it is to have people dismiss your existence and your freedom as a sin.”
Refilwe Nombuyiselo Mathamelo also expressed her shock at Pae’s post, commenting: “I really don’t understand how one can be such an avid voice for the right to exist as a black person but denies that same right to people that do not conform to heteronormative standards.
“I don’t understand how somebody that speaks about feminism and the equality for all doesn’t understand the intersectionality of it all. Clearly according to Zizipho Pae some freedoms are more superior to others.” Mathamelo wrote.
Pae has not responded to the many comments, choosing instead to simply post updates on her page affirming that she is a devout Christian.
The SRC has now reacted to the furore in a statement, expressing its “serious concern” over Pae’s post and apologising “for the hurt and alienation Ms Pae’s statement, in her position as Acting SRC President, has brought upon the queer+ community and its allies.”
It revealed that it is conducting an investigation into her post, as well as other “former complaints cited as homophobia by members of the SRC and members of the general UCT student population.”
The SRC acknowledged Pae’s right to religious and personal expression but stated that “it strongly condemns and distances itself from the reckless and irresponsible public statement… especially pending on her position as the head representative of the entire UCT student population.”
It further noted that she had agreed to uphold and advance the constitutions of UCT and SRC when she took office as acting SRC president.
Mambaonline has contacted Pae on Facebook asking for clarity on her post and a response to the controversy but has not yet received a response.
According to a recent report, over 10 percent of South African students identified as men who have sex with men (MSM) have experienced some form of abuse and/or violence based on their sexual orientation at higher education institutions.