Foreign students prefer PMB

2008-01-22 00:00

The alleged rape of an international student late last year at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Howard College campus has raised fears among the international student body, resulting in a number of them requesting transfers.

The university has revealed that the students asked to be transferred to the Pietermaritzburg campus, which they believe is safer, and they have been accommodated in their relevant fields of study.

Liane Loots, a member of the gender-based lobby group at the university, said it is alarming that students are opting for transfers due to safety concerns.

She said she understands the students’ fears, but could not fully comment until the results of the campus- wide safety review, conducted by the university, have been released.

Thenjiwe Magwaza, who sits on the panel and heads the Gender Studies Programme, said the alleged rape had a huge impact on the decision to improve security, but it was not the only reason.

She said the audit will be voluntary and the programme have flyers all around campus informing the students about it.

"We need to listen to the students by listening to their experiences and suggestions so that we can strengthen their well-being in the areas of safety and beyond."

Magwaza said they realise that no one programme is enough, but she believes the audit is a move in the right direction.

Professor Dasarath Chetty, the pro-vice chancellor for corporate relations, said the university is also in the process of adding closed-circuit cameras and additional security guards at all residences and campuses.

The 21-year-old alleged rape victim, who was from California, has since gone back home.

The suspect, who was arrested in connection with the rape, has been released because there was insufficient evidence linking him to the case, the university said.

sphumem@witness.co.za

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