Five times student rape made headlines in South Africa

Wits University confirmed that its SRC members was accused of rape.
Wits University confirmed that its SRC members was accused of rape.
Image: Gallo Images

Student safety is firmly back on the agenda‚ amidst calls for campus shutdowns after alleged rape incidents at Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth and Rhodes University in Grahamstown.

Rape and violence against women at tertiary institutions has been an ongoing problem in South Africa. The publication revisits some of the more recent incidents:

• Nelson Mandela University made headlines in October 2017 when an armed man raped one student and stabbed another at a computer laboratory on the premises.

At the time‚ university spokesperson Zandile Mbabela said the attacker had entered the computer laboratory mere minutes after security personnel had patrolled the area.

“There was an attack on two of our students in one of the computer labs … at the Second Avenue campus. One student was stabbed and the other one was raped. Both students have received medical attention … and the necessary support systems and counselling have been put in place‚” said Mbabela.

A suspect was eventually apprehended.

The 30-year-old man is to stand trial later this month.

• The University of Cape Town also made headlines in 2017 when numerous students were allegedly raped on campus.

Patrick Hlomane‚ who was implicated‚ was jailed but sexual assaults at the university continued.

Hlomane had been given nine life sentences after he confessed to raping five students in 2015 and 2016.

In August 2017‚ it reported that 16 cases reported in the first half of the year — almost three a month — had matched the number in the same period of 2016.

Students held silent protests to draw attention to sexual violence at the institution.

Meanwhile‚ two SRC members were reportedly suspended amid rape allegations in 2017.

A student who had been raped at the institution had penned a blog about the ordeal and the subsequent treatment she received from the institution's wellness centre.

• Rhodes University announced several years ago that it had expelled a student implicated in the rape of a first-year student. The student was barred from studying or setting foot on campus for a decade.

While the third-year BA student was pronounced guilty of the rape by a university panel‚ which included legal experts‚ the local deputy director of public prosecutions‚ Malherbe Marais‚ declined to prosecute.

In 2016‚ the son of a prominent politician in Zimbabwe‚ a popular comedian‚ a journalist and several student leaders were among 11 men publicly accused of rape at the university.

The Sunday Times had at the time tracked down four of the men whose names were on a list that was circulated.

• In 2016‚ females from the University of Witwatersrand‚ some of whom marched bare-chested‚ embarked on a silent protest against rape and violence on campus.

Earlier this year‚ the University of Witwatersrand's newsletter reported that a former SRC member had been arrested for rape and was being kept at the Hillbrow police station.

The SRC member was alleged to have raped a person at one of the institution's residences.

Wits had in previous years come under fire after one of its drama lecturers was accused of preying on female students.

Wit's newsletter published a Facebook post‚ reportedly written by the lecturer‚ wherein he gave a poetic apology for his actions.

He was dismissed from the university.

• At the Tshwane University of Technology‚ a student was arrested shortly after allegedly attempting to rape a fellow student at the Soshanguve campus earlier this year.

The Citizen reported that students alleged that the campus was not doing enough about their safety.

The publication told of one student's horror‚ who was stabbed as she tried to scream for help.

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