Stellies AfriForum council member to stay put despite 'rape culture' judgment

2016-07-17 20:27
(Supplied by Stellenbosch University)

(Supplied by Stellenbosch University)

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Cape Town - AfriForum Stellenbosch University council member Hein Gonzales will not heed a call to step down after a stinging judgment over the conduct of some of the organisation's members during a confrontation on campus earlier this year.

"There is no grounds within that judgment for me to step down," said Gonzales.

On July 8, AfriForum and its head of local government Michael Pawson lost a court bid to have Facebook posts suggesting it supported rape removed. 

The comments were posted by Johan Pienaar, a member of the Protest Observers Alliance and Open Stellenbosch movement, after a campus confrontation over the statue of an Afrikaner philanthropist on March 3.

"I witnessed AfriForum supporters threaten to rape women today and then when they found out that the one protester was a rape survivor mocked her by shouting 'Don't rape her again she's been done'. I will just leave this here for all you guys who told me about the good work AfriForum is doing."

AfriForum and Pawson applied for the posts to be taken down but Acting Judge Michael Donen dismissed the application, with costs.  After that, Pienaar called on Gonzales to step down.

"I am not going to step down as a member of council," Gonzalez told News24.

He said the organisation did not agree with the judgment, and its legal team was still assessing it. 

"We do not support rape culture," said Gonzalez, adding that AfriForum held anti-rape courses and had done training within the organisation on the subject.

Washed her too

The rape furore erupted when an End Rape Culture Campaigner was pinned to the statue during a confrontation between Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) supporters protesting over the suspension of seven people, and a group of AfriForum supporters who had gathered to wash the statue of Jan Marais, a founding funder of Stellenbosch University, and promoter of the Afrikaans language.

During the clash someone tried to pull her off the statue. She was bumped several times into men around her. One pushed his leg into her buttocks and ignored her when she said she felt uncomfortable.

She alleged in court papers that two other female protesters were also abused, and charges were laid with police. She was spoken to aggressively and touched on her torso and breast as a group of men pressed over her to carry on scrubbing the statue, sometimes washing her too.

Another man allegedly shouted in Afrikaans, "A person would think they want to be raped" before another allegedly shouted,  "Don't rape her, she's already been done".

Pienaar was dragged away and had a confrontation with AfriForum head of local government affairs, Marcus Pawson, while the woman was being pushed against the statue. She eventually left in tears.

Inflict their rape culture

Handing down judgment on the application, Donen turned the tables on AfriForum. 

He found that whether or not AfriForum supporters threatened to rape the woman in the literal sense of the word, "they nevertheless did inflict their rape culture on her and other women present".

"AfriForum's promotion of the interruption via a pamphlet led to the violence and the sexual assault, sexual violence and sexual aggression and intimidation and expressing of rape culture in an egregious form," he said.

Meanwhile, Pienaar has turned his attention to following up on the criminal charges the woman's brother laid on her behalf as a result  of the confrontation.

He said there would have been devastating consequences if it was the EFF which had been implicated in sexual assault.

The university could not yet comment on the matter.

Read more on:    university of stellenbosch  |  afriforum  |  cape town

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