Relief as ‘rapist’ is caught

2016-03-15 10:26
A safer UCT campus seems to be in sight with the recent news that police have arrested a suspect in connection with the series of rapes near the campus.
A 35-year-old man has appeared in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court in connection with the rape of a student at Rhodes Memorial in November last year but police are investigating the possibility that he could be linked to other rape cases in the same area.

The latest attack occurred last Tuesday when yet another female UCT student was assaulted and raped close to campus.

In this latest incident the student was running along the bicycle path near the bridge of Princess Anne Drive in Newlands when a man attacked her, threatened her with a knife, assaulted her severely and forced her into the bushes and towards the Rhodes Memorial area.
He held her captive for some hours and raped her. The man later forced her to walk to a garage where she was able to break free from the attacker and was assisted by staff to call the police.

Gerda Kruger, the executive director of communication and marketing at UCT, says the university congratulates the police for their dedicated efforts to catch the suspect on a charge of rape which was allegedly perpetrated on 19 November last year.

“We understand that the police are now investigating the possibility that the same suspect could be linked to similar cases in the area.
“This matter is now in the hands of the justice system and due process must be followed. The university will continue to support the police in the investigation,” she says.

Since November, five women were raped and a sixth came close to being raped near Rhodes Memorial.

Four of the five victims were UCT students, and the assaults sparked fear on the campus and in surrounding areas.
Amid the panic, UCT urged students to avoid the Rhodes Memorial area, where extra security was deployed.
On Friday, in another attempt to catch the rapist, UCT offered a R100 000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel André Traut says the suspect arrested early on Saturday faces a rape charge for an attack in November, in which a 23-year-old woman was robbed and raped at the bottom of Rhodes Memorial.

“The possibility that the same suspect could be linked to similar cases in the same area is now part of our investigation,” Traut says.
“We will not be elaborating on the finer aspects of the suspect’s arrest at this stage.”
Reacting to the news that a suspect was arrested a student who did not want to be named says there is a feeling of relief on campus.
“We feel slightly safer but we hope that it can all be proved and that it is the right guy,” she says.
“A lot of us stopped our walking activities after work to avoid being alone on campus. We’re still a bit fearful.
“We have tests at night and still have that worry now. I feel the police should have had a stronger presence in the area or a log-in system that tracks movement from Newlands forest to the Rhodes gate.”

Kruger adds that UCT was in ongoing discussions with the police, Sanparks and the Groote Schuur Community Improvement District to coordinate and strengthen efforts to protect the community.

“The university has recently established a sexual assault response team, headed up by associate professor Sinegugu Duma,” she says.
“The team aims to provide survivor-centred, compassionate and comprehensive services on campus for future incidents if they happen. It includes a medical practitioner, counsellors, staff from the student wellness service and representatives from the campus protection services.
“There will also be a prosecutor and representatives from the nearest police station, the Rape Crisis Centre and the hospital emergency room.”

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