Campus rapes spark fear

2019-03-19 15:00
UKZN student 'humiliated and embarrassed' by hospital staff and police after rape ordeal.

UKZN student 'humiliated and embarrassed' by hospital staff and police after rape ordeal. (File Image)

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Student safety at the University of KwaZulu-Natal is firmly back on the agenda in the wake of two rape allegations.

Two female students are alleged to have been raped at campus residences in Pietermaritzburg.

The first rape was allegedly committed by a visiting student, while a junior lecturer is accused in the second incident.

This month female students at the university held silent protests over two days to draw attention to sexual violence at the institution.

The convener of the protests told The Witness that rape had become a norm at the institution.

“It seems as if the management and the security department aren’t ready to do anything about that matter. Their main concern is to protect their buildings while our lives are in danger,” said the masters student.

She said while the university is always preaching “no violence”, it was more about their property than the students.

“There are a lot of cases reported by the students to RMS [UKZN Risk Management Services] and SAPS, and those cases are left hanging and the victims are then left to deal with trauma on their own. We need strict policies to deter rape,” she said.

In the first incident, a third year student was allegedly raped by a visiting Johannesburg student activist. The alleged incident happened at the Denison residence last month.

On March 4, a junior lecturer is alleged to have raped a second year student. The student apparently had drinks with the lecturer at a rugby match, after which they ended up in her residence.

This case was reported to the UKZN RMS on March 5.

Students submitted a memorandum to the director of the campus, Professor Albert Modi, last week, calling for the suspension of the lecturer pending investigations.

The Witness has since tracked down one of the rape survivors.

Although reluctant to talk at first, the third year student recounted the ordeal at the hands of someone she regarded as her “comrade”.

The 23-year-old said the incident took place on February 20 after a night of drinking with friends.

She reported the rape to the police and to on-campus security five days after it happened.

The student told The Witness that she was mistreated by the police and told that the matter “will not stand in court” because she had reported it too late.

Alexandra Road police station spokesperson Captain Kholeka Mhlongo confirmed a case was reported but said no arrests had been made.

“Later that night, I had to walk back to my residence to fetch my jersey and I asked one of my male friends to accompany me.

“When we arrived in my room, my male friend was drunk passed out on the bed. I tried to wake him up because we still had to go back but he didn’t [wake up]. I left him and decided that I would sleep in my best friend’s room.”

After the social gathering, the student had to accompany the alleged perpetrator to Denison residence, where he was staying.

“He was staying with the guy who passed out. When we arrived at res, I realised that none of us had the key for the room.

“I decided to go inside alone to check if the room was indeed locked.”

The student says the young man followed her inside the residence leaving their friends outside.

“When I tried opening the door to check if it was locked, he came up from behind me and said he had the key. He opened the door and when I attempted to leave, he pushed me inside the room. “He said I was not going anywhere,” she recalled.

The student, who admitted that she was slightly intoxicated, said at first she laughed because she thought the perpetrator was just being playful.

“He locked me inside the room and went to tell the friends who were waiting outside to leave.

I tried to fight back, says student

“I Thought he was going to come back and unlock the door. I have met this guy several times before at rallies and events. I didn’t think he was going to do anything to me,” she said.

When the man returned to the room, she rushed to the door and tried to run out but he pushed her back.

“He locked the door again and opened the wardrobe, seemingly looking for something. Even then I didn’t think anything was going to happen,” she said.

The student said the young man left the room again, locking her inside.

“This time, I didn’t try to run to the door. While he was outside, I heard him knocking on the rooms next door.”

She said when the alleged perpetrator returned, he asked her: ‘How does this guy stay without condoms?’

He then switched off the lights, shoved her onto the bed and raped her.

“I tried to fight back ... he overpowered me,” she said, sobbing.

Asked if she had tried screaming for help, the student said no, adding: “I just laid there. Even after he had raped me, I asked him if I could leave and he told me I wasn’t going anywhere.

“I sat on the bed while he slept and only at about 4 am he opened the door and said I could leave.”

She said the incident has left her so emotionally scarred that she was toying with the idea of abandoning her studies and going back home.

Normah Zondo, UKZN’s acting spokesperson, said they were aware of both cases. Zondo said a complaint regarding the allegation made against the staff member was only received last week and is currently being processed and investigated.

Regarding the second matter involving a student, she said the University Risk Management Services has not received an official statement from the complainant. “She has indicated that she does not want to formally pursue the matter further,” Zondo said.

Siya Nyambose, UKZN Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) branch chairperson, who assisted the student to report the case, said this was not true. “We have been pushing for this student to get justice.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  rape

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