Investigator to probe Wits' handling of Junction res rape

2016-11-19 11:30
Wits

Wits

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Cape Town - An investigation into the alleged rape of a student at the Wits Junction Residence has been authorised by Wits University vice chancellor Professor Adam Habib, he confirmed on Saturday.

Researcher, analyst and speaker on gender, politics, leadership and cultural issues Nomboniso Gasa has been appointed to investigate the university’s handling of the alleged attack, which took place on 30 October. 

This is in addition to the university’s investigation into the incident, which was announced on Thursday.

Habib said he had met with the student and her mother on the university’s handling of the rape, following allegations that the Wits structures and managers “did not respond timeously and sensitively to the complainant’s concerns”. 

"I particularly enquired about her experience of the Office of Residence Life, Student Affairs and the Gender Equity Office regarding her complaint.

"She explained that some individuals engaged with her more effectively than others, and while some were extremely helpful and sensitive to her needs, others had not been equally responsive to her situation," he said.

"This suggests that it may be that particular processes and procedures of the university have not been fully complied with by certain individuals in these circumstances."

The student felt that a considered conversation about issues related to rape, sexual harassment and gender based harm in residences is urgently needed in all universities and in society as a whole, Habib said.

He appealed to those commenting on the issue on social media to engage "in a way that is truthful, measured and engaged, and in a way that does not contribute to the distress of the complainant and her family".

"We must be protective and sensitive of her personal circumstances at all times," he said.

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