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6 MAY 2024


Yesterday, Dr Max Price published a reply to my article entitled “The Liberation of the University of Cape Town is Underway.” He takes issue with two topics raised in my article, being my assessment of the state of the university’s finances and my criticism of comments which Dr Price has made regarding the death of Professor Bongani Mayosi. I will deal with each of these issues in turn.

The University of Cape Town’s finances


In my article, I referred to the most recent set of audited Annual Financial Statements published by the University of Cape Town which disclose that the university suffered a staggering net cash outflow of R 223 million in the 2022 financial year. I noted that student fees receivable now stands at over R 310 million, up 23% from the year before and five times higher than the figure recorded in 2014. I also quoted the university’s Chief Financial Officer, Vincent Motholo, who has stated that “the medium-term outlook period indicates significant deficits for the period 2023–2025.”[1]


Dr Price does not dispute these figures nor does he dispute Mr Motholo’s assessment. Rather, he disputes that he is responsible for the precipitous decline in the university’s financial position, having departed as Vice Chancellor in 2018. Dr Price states that:

“First, [Wilkinson] fails to point out that the finances he views so favourably in 2014 were achieved in my 7th year in office, and demonstrated dramatic expansion compared to the results when I took office in 2008.


Secondly, [Wilkinson] fails to point out that I completed my ten years as VC in mid-2018 – so the results of 2022, over 4 years after I had left, can hardly be attributed to me.”

He further states that:

“… I hold no brief for the financial performance of the university in the four years following my term…”[2]


Far from my repudiating my argument – that the Fallist activism which commenced in 2015 led to the University of Cape Town’s present financial troubles – Dr Price’s comment that all was relatively well in 2014 actually affirms my argument.


Where I make mention in my article of “a decade of destruction and misgovernance”, I refer specifically to Dr Price’s handling of a series of incidents and matters that commenced with the original Rhodes Must Fall protests which began in March 2015 and which continue to this day. These incidents are far too numerous and extensive to be adequately covered in this article and have, in any event, already been documented by other writers, most notably by Professor David Benatar in his superb book, The Fall of the University of Cape Town. Nevertheless, it appears to be necessary to highlight Dr Price’s handling of just a few of the most egregious incidents which occurred during his tenure.


With respect to the original Rhodes Must Fall protests which erupted in March 2015, Dr Price has himself revealed the critical role that he personally played in facilitating the entry of Chumani Maxwele – the founder and lead instigator of Rhodes Must Fall – into the University of Cape Town. Maxwele first gained publicity – and the attention of Dr Price – after he was involved in an altercation with former President Zuma’s motorcade in 2010. The press had incorrectly reported that Maxwele was a student at the University of Cape Town. In actual fact, he was a research assistant for a community-based NGO whose researchers had access to the university’s library facilities and thus Maxwele was in possession of a university access card at the time of his arrest.[3]


Dr Price arranged a meeting between himself and Maxwele. He states in his book that Maxwele “made a strong, positive impression on me – both for his degree of self-education and his social justice commitment. I connected him with the faculty and the admissions office and confirmed that he would be granted a financial aid bursary. He was enrolled the following year.”[4]


Shortly after his Rhodes Must Fall antics, Maxwele would go on to confront and threaten a white female lecturer in the Maths department causing her to lock herself in her office out of fear. According to an article that appeared in UCT News, Maxwele gained entry to her office, banged on her desk and screamed “WE MUST NOT LISTEN TO WHITES, WE DO NOT NEED THEIR APOLOGIES, THEY HAVE TO BE REMOVED FROM UCT AND HAVE TO BE KILLED!”.[5]


Disgracefully, and at the instigation of Maxwele, the victim of this incident was herself subjected to protracted disciplinary action by the university.[6] In a chapter of his book entitled Excremental Behaviour, Professor Benatar documents no fewer than eleven other instances in which Maxwele assaulted, threatened or intimidated university staff and students, including at disciplinary hearings which had been called in respect of Maxwele’s prior assault allegations.[7]


None of this appears to have dimmed Dr Price’s affection for Maxwele. Professor Benatar alleges that Dr Price personally intervened to ensure that Maxwele could graduate in 2017 – in contravention of the standard practice that bars students who have open disciplinary matters from graduating until the matter has been completed.[8] As far as I can tell, Dr Price did not respond to Professor Benatar’s assertion in his book.


The University’s failure to act meaningfully and effectively against Maxwele meant that the violence and terror of Fallism persisted well beyond Dr Price’s tenure as Vice Chancellor. In December 2022, Maxwele again reappeared at an event at the University of Cape Town, this time repeatedly punching Professor Jeremy Seekings in the face, damaging his glasses.[9] It cannot be stated clearly enough: not only did Dr Price fail to take any meaningful and effective action against Maxwele but, were it not for Dr Price, Maxwele would never have been a student at the university in the first place.


In February 2016, the Shackville debacle ensued when a group of Fallist activists erected a shack on Residence Road, blocking access to the university and causing a traffic jam which extended all the way down the M3 highway. Protesters were indulged by the university for days when they should have been promptly arrested. The protest eventually culminated in historic artwork being ripped from the walls of university buildings and burnt in a bonfire in the Smuts Hall parking lot.

Responding to these events, the university established an Institutional Reconciliation and Transformation Commission (“IRTC”) – an absurdly grandiose and completely dysfunctional talking shop. According to Professor Benatar, the IRTC’s “Steering Committee was composed largely of either Fallists or people sympathetic or pliant to them.”[10] He states further that “the IRTC’s conclusions were indeed predictable. Amnesty was granted to the eight affected students” even after they reneged on a prior commitment to “formally acknowledge wrong-doing and commit not to repeat such actions in the future’.[11] Even Dr Price acknowledges that the “IRTC outcome was a huge disappointment”.[12] He writes in his book that the final IRTC report was “a complete travesty – ignoring and misinterpreting facts, court evidence and alternative explanations.”[13]


Where the law did try take to its course, Dr Price was reliably on hand to aid and abet the Fallists. In October 2016, an activist called Masixole Mlandu was arrested by police and charged with violating a court order.[14] Mlandu had been one of the leading instigators of the Shackville fiasco earlier that year. Dr Price intervened by writing a letter in support of Mlandu’s bail application, a fact that he confirms in his book.[15] Two years later, in November 2018, Mlandu submitted his Political Studies Honours research project. The acknowledgements page ended with the words “ONE SETTLER, ONE BULLET”[16] – an explicit call for ethnic cleansing.


Finally, under Dr Price, the University of Cape Town fully embraced the Marxist academic programme known as “decolonisation” and has also adopted explicitly race-based policies in respect of both admissions and faculty appointments. Indeed, Dr Price devotes 17 pages of his book to detailing his exhaustive efforts to decolonise the university. One task team which he established – the Curriculum Planning Group – was given a mandate to “[conceptualise] what decolonising a curriculum really means.”[17] I wonder if they have figured this out yet?


In light of all of this (and much else besides), is it any wonder that serious academics have left and continue to leave the University of Cape Town in droves? Who would want to work in such a toxic environment?


Coupled with the departure of academics has been the erosion of the university’s fee-paying student base as well as the alienation of alumni and donors. We will never know how many potential fee-paying students have decided not to entrust their education to a university which cannot or will not take action against activists who disrupt exams. Similarly, we will never know how many potential donors have decided to not make a donation to an institution which so gleefully denigrated its most significant benefactor, Cecil John Rhodes. What we do know is that the foregone fees and donations would be very welcome right now considering that, at last count, the university was bleeding R 231 million a year.


I respectfully submit that Dr Price is delusional if he thinks that his handling of the events of the past decade has not had a severely negative impact on the university’s bottom line – albeit that it took a few years for the chickens to come home to roost. To the extent that the university has held up, this has occurred not because of Fallism but, rather, in spite of Fallism, and largely due to the heroic efforts of diligent staff who remain in the administration.


Furthermore, I believe that Dr Price's indulgence of Fallist activism and his validation of virtually every Woke trope imaginable has caused governance at the University of Cape Town to break down. The precedent that was set by capitulation after capitulation to Fallism has made it virtually impossible for the university to apply credit control and to uphold financial discipline. In essence, everyone knows that if you commit enough violence and intimidation at the University of Cape Town you will get your way – provided, of course, that you do so under the ideological cover provided by Critical Race Theory and its assorted mutations.


In his response to my article, Dr Price points the finger of blame for the university’s financial woes at the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (“NSFAS”). National government’s funding constraints and the well-documented corruption at NSFAS[18] are indeed major problems that are not of the university’s making – but they are problems that are not going away and that must be confronted.


The real question we must ask is how did the University of Cape Town – an institution which is supposed to jealously guard its financial and academic independence – find itself in a position where it depends so heavily on the probity and competence of Dr Blade Nzimande and the ANC government for its funding? Ultimately, the result of decisions made over the past decade is that the University of Cape Town is effectively turning into another state-owned enterprise – an institution which cannot pay its way, and which is at the mercy of a national government run by people who have open contempt for the fundamental principles which underpin a classical university.


Tough decisions clearly need to be made about the credibility of NSFAS as a financial sponsor. Failure to confront this issue will inevitably lead to escalating unpaid fees and further financial deterioration. But considering that the university’s leadership lacked the courage and the skill to deal with the handful of Woke thugs who blocked roads and burnt paintings in the parking lot during Shackville, what hope is there that they will be able to defend the university’s finances from national budget cuts and the demise of NSFAS?


The flames of Fallism are not yet fully visible on the university’s income statement (which shows a small surplus of R 80 million) but they are most certainly visible on its cash flow statement (which shows a net cash outflow of R 231 million). When the university reassesses the quality of its receivables I expect that it will inevitably have to write off a great deal more of what it presently regards as being a current asset. Even before accounting for this, the Chief Financial Officer forecasts significant deficits over the next three years.


And so the flames of Fallism will creep upwards – from the university’s cash flow statement to its income statement and, eventually, to its balance sheet. The numbers don’t lie – they just take a while to show up.  




The death of Professor Bongani Mayosi


In my article, I asserted that Dr Price had made false and revisionist claims regarding the death of Professor Bongani Mayosi, the former Dean of the University of Cape Town’s Faculty of Health Sciences. I had intended to cover this topic in a separate article, but will briefly set out my concerns below.


Professor Mayosi tragically committed suicide on 27 July 2018. His death followed a severe decline in his mental health after he endured months of bullying by Fallist activists in the Faulty of Health Sciences. The University of Cape Town undertook a full investigation into the circumstances of Professor Mayosi’s death, eventually publishing a 157-page report on the topic.


In November last year I attended an event at a bookshop in Birnam, Johannesburg, where Dr Price was presenting his memoir entitled “Statues and Storms: Leading through change.” I perused the pages of Dr Price’s book which deal with the death of Professor Mayosi and felt that they did not adequately capture the full horror of this appalling episode in the university’s history.

Following the interview between Dr Price and the event’s moderator, Howard Sackstein, I raised my hand to ask Dr Price a question. I began by reading out extracts from the key findings of the University of Cape Town’s report. I then asked Dr Price whether, in light of these findings, he felt a degree of personal responsibility for the death of Professor Mayosi and asked whether he would like to publicly apologise for his near-total failure to act against the Fallist activists who had occupied the Faculty of Health Sciences and subjected faculty, students and administrative staff to shocking intimidation, bullying and abuse.


Dr Price’s answer was curt and technical. He cast doubt on whether Fallist agitation had, in fact, been the proximate cause of Professor Mayosi’s depression and suicide, stating that over two years had passed between the Fees Must Fall protests and Professor Mayosi’s death. In stating this, Dr Price implied that something else must have caused Professor Mayosi’s depression. With respect to his failure to provide adequate security or to act against protestors occupying the faculty, Dr Price stated that Professor Mayosi had requested him to not deploy additional security to the medical campus on the grounds that this might make the situation worse. And so, no, Dr Price did not feel responsible for Professor Mayosi’s death and did not believe that there was anything for which he should apologise.   


The first part of Dr Price’s answer flatly contradicts the official University of Cape Town report, the overall findings of which are unequivocal and damning:

“The panel had no hesitation in concluding, from the testimony presented, that the eruption of the #FeesMustFall protests a few days after Professor Mayosi took up his post as Dean was the single most influential factor directly and indirectly affecting his Deanship.”

“The panel [drew] from a range of interviews with Professor Mayosi’s colleagues, administrative staff, and students to show how the energy and enthusiasm he brought with his vision was soon dimmed by the relentless and sometimes aggressive stance of the student protesters.”

“The level of distress Professor Mayosi experienced is captured in his own handwritten notes shared with the panel in which he states that he was ‘deeply affected by the trauma of the period’.”[19]


Furthermore, Dr Price’s views contradict the publicly reported comments of Professor Mayosi’s family members. According to media reports, Professor Mayosi’s sister, Ncumisa Mayosi, has stated that Professor Mayosi had no history of depression prior to taking up the deanship. She further stated that:


"He was hardly two weeks in his new position and the protests broke out. The vitriolic nature of the students and their do-or-die attitude vandalised his soul and unravelled him. Their personal insults and abuse cut him to the core, were offensive to his values and were the opposite of everything he was about."[20]


The content of this news article is fully corroborated by the University of Cape Town report:

“Family members reported to the panel that he had no psychiatric condition prior to the time he assumed the position of dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences. In this view, the only conclusion to be drawn is that it was the circumstances surrounding his deanship as well as the student protests that triggered and compounded his emotional decline.”[21]


Last month, I emailed Dr Price and asked him to provide substantiation for his view – as stated at his book launch in Johannesburg – that Fallist bullying was not the proximate cause of Professor Mayosi’s depression. I received no response to my email.  


With respect to the issue of campus security, I find it hard to accept that – whatever Professor Mayosi’s views on the matter – responsibility for making tough decisions could be shifted by the Vice Chancellor to the Dean who was clearly under enormous pressure to appear to be onsides with the protesters.


In short, there has been no accountability for the death of Professor Mayosi, and it is unlikely that there ever will be accountability if senior figures try to deflect from what really happened. Quite aside from Dr Price’s comments, various half-hearted attempts have been made to claim that Professor Mayosi’s death was due to “institutional racism” of some kind. For example, writing in the Mail and Guardian, Lukhona Mnguni alleged, without any justification, that “[Professor Mayosi] must have been infantilised by some of his colleagues hell-bent at (sic) refusing that UCT should be decolonised.”[22]


This sort of risible disinformation must be countered. Accordingly, I encourage the incoming Council of the University of Cape Town to pass a resolution in which it acknowledges, publicly and unequivocally, that the proximate cause of Professor Mayosi’s suicide was, in fact, Fallist bullying and not some other reason. I further encourage the incoming Council to publish full details regarding the students who bullied and intimidated Professor Mayosi. Who are these individuals? What are their names? What exactly did they say to Professor Mayosi either verbally or in email correspondence? Frustratingly – and inexplicably – the University of Cape Town report does not disclose these details. Finally, Council should resolve that never again will it allow any member of the university to be subjected to the sort of bullying and intimidation which Professor Mayosi suffered – and which led to him to end his life.  

Finally, I reiterate the question which I posed to Dr Price in Johannesburg last year: that he should reflect upon whether, in light of the extraordinary latitude which he granted to Fallist activists during his tenure as Vice Chancellor, he feels any responsibility for the suffering endured by thousands of people who had their studies disrupted, their careers jeopardised and, in some cases, their souls destroyed when the flames of Fallism engulfed the University of Cape Town?


Rhodes Must Fall Must Fall


Apologists for Fallism have typically employed two tactics when responding to their critics. The first tactic has been to claim that there is nothing wrong at the University of Cape Town or that concerns are alarmist or overstated. When the passage of time reveals this claim to be laughable, they tend to pivot to their second tactic which is to deny any responsibility for the mess. We are now well past the stage where the first tactic has any credibility and so the debate now concerns what brought the university to the state it is currently in and what needs to be done to restore it to good health.  


The basic assertions which I made in my article are clear: that there is a straight line that can be drawn between the onset of Fallism and the deterioration of the university’s finances; and that there is an equally straight line that can be drawn between Fallism and the suicide of Professor Mayosi. We can now see that “Going Woke” does lead, inexorably, to an institution “Going Broke”. And, tragically, “Going Woke” also leads to countless good and decent people having their lives destroyed. Pretending otherwise does no favours to the university, its staff or its students.

What is now required is the total repudiation of Fallism by the University of Cape Town and the reversal of the policy decisions which were made, both explicitly and implicitly, in its wake. Perpetrators of violence and criminality need to be arrested and prosecuted. Hiring, promotions, admissions and procurement policies need to be deracialised. Decolonisation needs to be abandoned. Fees need to be collected on time – no matter what resistance is encountered. Wasteful and extravagant expenditure needs to be curbed. The books need to be balanced both in terms of accrual accounting and in terms of real cash flow. To achieve all of this, Rhodes Must Fall – as well as the entire Marxist ideological framework which gave rise to it – needs to fall.


It was successive governing Councils which, over the period of a decade, catastrophically failed to protect staff, students and property at the University of Cape Town. And it is the policies endorsed by Council which have led to the university’s finances deteriorating to the point where the university experienced a cash outflow of R 231 million during the 2022 financial year. This is why I was pleased that a group of classical liberal candidates resoundingly won the recent alumni elections and why I sincerely hope that classical liberals can establish control over Council when their term of office commences in July this year.





[3] Max Price. Statues and Storms – Leading through Change. At page 42.

[4] Max Price. Statues and Storms – Leading through Change. At pages 42 to 43.


[6] David Benatar. The Fall of the University of Cape Town. At page 304.

[7] David Benatar. The Fall of the University of Cape Town. At pages 293 to 315.

[8] David Benatar. The Fall of the University of Cape Town. At page 313.


[10] David Benatar. The Fall of the University of Cape Town. At page 254.

[11] David Benatar. The Fall of the University of Cape Town. At page 257.

[12] Max Price. At page 293.

[13] Max Price. At page 293.


[15] Dr Max Price. Statues and Storms. At page 249.

[16] David Benatar, The Fall of the University of Cape Town. At page 149.



[19] Enquiry into the Circumstances Surrounding Professor Bongani Mayosi’s Tenure University of Cape Town, 16 June 2020 at page 6. Available at:'s_Tenure_June2020.pdf


[21] Enquiry into the Circumstances Surrounding Professor Bongani Mayosi’s Tenure University of Cape Town, 16 June 2020 at page 78.


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