By JOY HINYIKIWILE
After a five-year-long battle against Rhodes University, former Rhodes student, Yolanda Dyantyi, has given up her quest to hold Rhodes University accountable for instituting a disciplinary process against her and permanently excluding her from the university.
On 13 September, Dyantyi announced on various social media platforms that she had accepted that her journey with Rhodes University had ended. She will not return to the university to complete her undergraduate degree after the university abruptly excluded her in November 2017, during the final semester of her study programme. She was left with writing two exams before completing her studies.
In March, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) upheld with costs Dyantyi’s appeal against Rhodes’s disciplinary case against her.
On Twitter, she made the statement below:
However, on her YouTube channel, Dyantyi said, “I’ve come to a point where I have to move on; I have to let go. I have to accept, prepare to welcome a new [season], re-set and also move forward with all that I’ve gained and lost.”
Rhodes University had accused Dyantyi of insubordination, kidnapping and assault during the 2016 #RUReferenceList protests, in which protesting students named students allegedly guilty of rape. The university instituted a disciplinary process against Dyantyi and others. It found Dyantyi guilty and permanently excluded her from the university with her academic scripts endorsed.
The 25-year-old made numerous court applications to appeal the university’s ruling, arguing that she had not been allowed to defend herself during the disciplinary process.
After her applications failed to succeed in the High Court in Makhanda, Dyantyi presented her case at the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) earlier this year. On 29 March, the SCA ruled in Dyantyi’s favour, ordering the university to reconsider the disciplinary inquiry and that a different proctor should chair further investigations into Dyantyi’s charges. The court also ordered Rhodes University to pay Dyantyi’s legal fees and the fees of two counsels.
After the ruling, Dyantyi expressed her joy on social media platforms and stated that she was still considering a way forward. In another post, she said she was not done with Rhodes University.
On her YouTube channel, Dyantyi explained that she had hoped to claim damages from the institution; however, her legal counsel advised her that her prospects of winning were very low and that pursuing the case would not make sense for the law firm. “There’s no compensation, no damages, no civil suit – there are no prospects of winning a civil suit against the institution,” she said.
Dyantyi said that since the ruling, Rhodes University had not said anything about the matter. The university released a statement after the ruling saying it was considering a way forward.
According to Dyantyi, Rhodes University has not followed up on its initial statement. “A historically white institution is definitely not going to be apologetic and pay damages to a young black person whose future it ruined,” she said. “The whole brand is built on violence and genocide of our ancestors.”
On her YouTube channel, the 25-year-old says she is happy that her name has been cleared and is working on redefining herself. “Currently, I am in a period of rediscovering myself and re-inventing, growing and stepping into a better version… definitely with confidence that I have the willpower to overcome and conquer,” she says.
Dyantyi admitted to having engaged in the 2016 #RUReferenceList protests and FeesMustFall movement as a leader. She says she became a student and feminist activist after she was raped in her first year at Rhodes University.
But, this had been a difficult process for her. “Life has been difficult. It’s not worth it to be an activist,” she said, explaining that regardless of her SCA win and support, she still has study debt from her unfinished undergraduate studies. Dyantyi is raising funds for her NPO www.archiveamabaliwethu.org.za.
Rhodes University did not respond to our request for a comment on the matter.