Back in 2015, Mcebo Dlamini, then chair of the Student Representative Council at the University of Witswatersrand in Johannesburg, posted this on Facebook
And then dug himself an even deeper hole
Wits’ SRC president, Mcebo Dlamini caused controversy this weekend after he posted a Facebook status regarding whites and the state of Israel: “I love Adolf Hitler”. Following his Facebook comments, he told Wits Vuvuzela that he admired the German leader, who sent millions to death camps, for his “charisma” and “organisational skills”.
Mcebo Dlamini, Wits Student Representative Council (SRC) president, posted the statement “I love Adolf Hitler” in a comment thread below a graphic comparing modern Israel to Nazi Germany.
Responding to a commenter who wrote “Hitler new [sic] they were up to no good”, Dlamini replied “I love Adolf HITLER”.
When contacted about his comments on Hitler, Dlamini restated his admiration of the fascist leader of Nazi Germany.
“What I love about Hitler is his charisma and his capabilities to organise people. We need more leaders of such cailbre. I love Adolf Hitler,” Dlamini told Wits Vuvuzela.
“I have researched about president Adolf Hitler. I have read books about president Adolf Hitler. I have watched documentaries about president Adolf Hitler,” Dlamini told Wits Vuvuzela defending his knowledge of the former German dictator.
In the same comment thread, Dlamini wrote that every white person has “an element of Adolf Hitler”.
“I have had numerous encounters with white chaps. From primary till today I live with white chaps … As I said, they are not Hitler but there is an elements of him in all of them. I connected the dots,” Dlamini said.
Dlamini further defended his remarks and suggested that his love of Hitler had “nothing do to with white people”.
“I find it very absurd that people expect me to regard their enemies as my enemies,” Dlamini said. “The same way I love Robert Mugabe, it has nothing to do with white people.”
Dlamini told Wits Vuvuzela that “I will write what I like on my Facebook” and was not on the social media platform to “nurse Jewish people’s feelings”.
“Who told them they deserve special treatment? This is an academic space, we must debate issues not to silence individuals,” he said.
In the comment thread, Dlamini said his post had been reported to Facebook. Dlamini responded: “Shame nxaaaaa fok am not removing it…..truth hurts…face it murderers.”
Well, that was then, and this is now
LETTER OF APOLOGY TO THE JEWISH COMMUNITY AND ALL THOSE AFFECTED
In 2015 I uttered statements about Jews and Israelis that were not only provocative but also extremely offensive. It is only in retrospect that I began to appreciate how much my statements were both ill-advised and to a certain extent dangerous because they ignored the kind of trauma that they caused. As someone who is interested in politics and how they can be used to advance a better world for all I should have known better. But consciousness is not something that you miraculously arrive at but you journey. My journey has made me appreciate that I was wrong and there is no possible excuse for what I said and there can be no way to reverse how it affected others. What I can do though is to supplement my apology with actions as testimony that I am truly remorseful.
I am committed to engage literature that will assist me in learning about the history of Jewish and Israeli people to understand deeply why my sentiments were offensive. Once I have this in-depth knowledge I commit to teaching others about the knowledge that I acquired. But beyond this I take serious interest in the history of all oppressed people in the world so that I do not repeat the same mistake. Once I have enough resources I want to travel to Israeli so that I understand their culture, tradition, belonging and how their present is shaped by their past. This I think will also help me in my growth as someone who is interested in politics of the world. I also want to have a guided tour at the JHGC followed by a facilitated engagement with one of the facilitators at the JHGC. I understand these acts alone might not be enough and I am therefore open to any other recommendation that might assist me in demonstrating my penance.
My act is not mitigated by the fact that I was in a leadership position when I said these statement. I had influence on a number of people whom were possibly convinced by what I had said. I highly regret using the platform that I had at the time in such a harmful way, the way I acted was undoubtedly an abuse of power. I have throughout the years met with various people both inside and outside the Jewish community who have helped understand how serious my transgression was. I have also been made aware that my statements were anti-sematic, which is a form of racism. As someone who grew up in South Africa and was/still is affected by the vestiges of apartheid I should have been able to make an analogy between what happened to the Jews and what happened to black South Africans during apartheid
In conclusion I want to add that I have grown as, matured and have a better understanding. It is because of this that, in good faith, I hope that my apology with be accepted as sincere and honest. This apology is well thought out and is a result of extensive consultation. I have thought very deeply about the kind of leader I want to be and it is definitely not a leader that spreads hate and rejoices at the misfortunes of others.
Mcebo Freedom Dlamini
This apology seems sincere, but time will tell whether he develops more of an understanding of Israel’s predicament. But the fact he mentions the ‘Israeli people’ and not just Jews is a really positive sign.
Besides, I am learning that it is possible for antisemites to turn.
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