5 arrested in Rhodes University anti-rape protest

Grahamstown - Tensions rose at Rhodes University on Wednesday morning following a stand-off between police and students protesting after a list was released naming alleged rapists on campus.

According to two university student newspapers, Activate and Oppidan Press, students continued protesting for a third day outside the campus’s drama department.

A barricade was put up, halting cars from entering the premises at Eden Grove, as well as other campus entrances.

Around 07:30, police entered the campus, seemingly armed, and started to remove the barricade.

Students claimed in various videos that fellow students had been shot with rubber bullets, while others were pepper sprayed.

Eastern Cape police responded to the protest at around 07:30, Captain Mali Govender said on Wednesday.

"The roads were blocked off using furniture, brooms, sticks and stones. Following warnings by the SAPS to disperse, the crowd did not adhere to the instructions."

Govender said the police then used pepper spray in an attempt to disperse the crowd, without success.

Police started using rubber bullets and stun grenades after the gathering became "aggressive", Govender said.

Five people, two of whom are women, were arrested and would face charges relating to the Gatherings Act.

"They will appear in the Grahamstown Magistrate's Court shortly," Govender concluded.

Bail was set at R500 each. Students were raising money to pay bail for their "comrades", Rhodes student Zindzi Nkunzi told News24.

Meanwhile, a meeting was also held on Wednesday for men at the university, in which they discussed the topic of rape culture and what it means. Activist Malaika Mahlatsi addressed them.

"Men are important in this conversation because women don't rape themselves," it was said at the meeting.

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