By YAMKELA KOTI
Rhodes Vice-Chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela, last week reiterated his request for anyone with information about an alleged rape on the University campus on Sunday 9 June to come forward to assist the investigation. Mabizela met with students on Monday 12 June 2018 to hear students’ concerns and brief them on action to be taken by the university following an incident outside the Amina Cachalia residence and referred to on student social media.
The meeting was to inform students about heightened security measures at the University.
“We take any allegation of sexual and gender-based violence seriously,” Mabizela told the students. “I urge any person who falls victim to such violence to report it immediately, so that we can provide them with support and ensure the alleged perpetrator can be dealt with appropriately.”
Mabizela said heightened security measures included:
- Increased security patrols on campus;
- Improved lighting on campus;
- Daily certification of the operation of panic/ SOS buttons around campus;
- Capacity of the Campus Protection Unit to be increased;
- Liaison with the SAPS would be more frequent on all reported cases. (full documentation on the Rhodes SRC Facebook page).
Students had said they did not feel safe on campus at a student body meeting the day before, 11 June 2018. The EFF Student Command gave students whistles to carry around campus in case of a threat.
The students also set up a Facebook page called UCKAR Student Safety, for students who would like a walking partner between the library and other venues at night. This page is operated by the students.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Mabizela reiterated an earlier call to anyone with information about the incident to share information that could assist the investigation.
“Preliminary investigation of the matter has been inconclusive,” a statement from the University’s COmmunication Division said. “Written statements from several students who heard strange noises coming from outside their residence were submitted. CCTV footage shows a couple fitting the description in the statements walking past several vehicles and students and past Amina Cachalia residence into a dark area.
“Minutes later when concerned students from the residence approached the site of the incident, the couple seem to split up, with one running away and another walking in a different direction,” the statement said.
Mabizela said, “Finding a complainant in this case is a significant missing step. We are hamstrung in our investigation due to this fact. We guarantee confidentiality and support to anyone who can assist in resolving this case.”
Further meetings between Mabizela and members of the Student Representative Council and some students were held on Wednesday 13 June.
“The University regularly reviews and assesses its safety and security arrangements to ensure that students and staff feel safe on campus,” Mabizela said.
Students who required counselling services were encouraged to access the Counselling Centre at Steve Biko Centre. Students were encouraged to report all incidents of violence by calling the University’s afterhours number 082 803 1077 or by approaching Student Counselling Unit, Office of the Vice-Chancellor, Campus Protection Unit, Division of Students Affairs or the South African Police Services (SAPS).