UFH vice-chancellor calls on Ramaphosa for protection after ‘assassination attempt’
Sakhela Buhlungu says universities are becoming killing fields and 'it cannot be business as usual'.
University of Fort Hare Vice Chancellor, Professor Sakhela Buhlungu during an interview on 24 March 2018 in East London, South Africa. Photo: Gallo Images / Sunday Times / Alaister Russell
University of Fort Hare (UFH) vice-chancellor professor Sakhela Buhlungu has called on President Cyril Ramaphosa for protection after his bodyguard was shot dead.
Mboneli Vesele was killed in a hail of bullets outside Buhlungu’s Alice residence on Friday, in what is suspected to have been an assassination attempt.
Police are investigating the incident.
Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande noted on Saturday that all indications were that the assailant or assailants were targeting Buhlungu.
‘Cannot be business as usual’
While Buhlungu was moved out of the vice-chancellor’s house, he has made a plea to Ramaphosa to ensure his safety.
The professor has been in a mission to clean up corruption at UFH.
“I think this time, not the local police, police station commander, provincial police commissioner or national police commissioner but the president has to assure me that I am safe,” he told Sunday Times.
“I can get all sorts of platitudes and condolences. I need the person who runs the country to say to me and to my executive and my staff: ‘You can rest assured you are covered, you are protected, you are safe.’ That’s where my headspace is right now.”
Buhlungu said he was of the view that universities were “becoming killing fields and it cannot be business as usual”.
This was not the first attempted assassination of Buhlungu.
In March last year, a man was captured on CCTV footage climbing over a wall and firing three shots at Buhlungu’s house.
University’s spokesperson, JP Roodt previously told TimesLIVE that UFH has seen several violent attacks recently after the university started clamping down on corruption.
In a separate incident, the university’s fleet and transport manager, Petrus Roets, was shot dead in a suspected hit near the Gonubie off-ramp.
The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) had launched an investigation into allegations of maladministration in the awarding of honours degrees at UFH.
It was also tasked to investigate – among others – the sourcing of public servants to study at various faculties at the institution for individual personal gain.
The unit’s proclamation, signed by Ramaphosa, covered allegations of unlawful and improper conduct that took place between November 2012 and August last year.
Buhlungu said he believed that the SIU was going to pounce on those implicated in corruption hence the latest attempt on his life.
“It’s getting very close now. The SIU [Special Investigating Unit] is going to nab big people and the big people are now at risk. That’s why now they want to kill this thing off and the only way to kill it off is to kill me,” he said.
“I suspect [the latest attack] is because we are close to even bigger fish now; we are close to the centre of it all. We have touched that nerve that’s why they are doing it. They want to stop something.”