Student fury at daytime rape in UKZN Maritzburg toilets

2014-09-16 00:00

STUDENTS are outraged after a 22-year-old woman was raped at knife-point in a bathroom within the Pietermaritzburg campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal on Friday.

It is alleged that the student was leaving the lavatories in the Old Main Building at around 11.25 am when an older man forced her back into the toilets at knife-point and raped her.

The rapist’s identity is still unknown. Police say that a case of rape has been opened and investigations are ongoing.

Students, who would not be named, expressed outrage at the incident.

“How can this happen in the middle of the day? There are so many thefts and hijackings in and around campus. This is just the limit. Instead of striking about fees, we should be striking for better security,” one student said furiously.

Another said that she is around the Old Main Building until the late afternoon and is now afraid to remain on campus after hours.

“If this can happen during lecture times, what will happen in the late afternoon? I won’t go back into that building alone again,” she said.

In an official statement, the university said it condemns all acts of violence perpetrated against women and the matter is being investigated by the University Risk Management Services and the police.

“The university’s counselling services are presently providing assistance. The university regrets and abhors such violence and will seek to put in place even more stringent measures to safeguard the university community,” it said.

This is not the first such incident on a UKZN campus. In 2007, an American exchange student was raped in a toilet cubicle at Howard College.

At that time, Lliane Loots spoke to The Witness on behalf of the UKZN Gender-Based Violence Lobby Group, saying that that incident was far from an isolated one.

“I personally know of eight other South African students who have been raped in the last four months. Their absolute lack of faith in [university security], student housing and the police meant they did not report these rapes, but chose to silently get on with their lives,” she said.

• amil.umraw@witness.co.za

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