'My rapist is graduating': NMU students stage silent protest at ceremony

2019-04-05 20:43
NMU. (Supplied, file)

NMU. (Supplied, file)

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A group of Nelson Mandela University (NMU) students staged silent anti-rape protests during the university's graduation ceremony at the south campus' indoor sports centre on Friday. 

The group, clad in black, took to the front of the hall with placards saying "My rapist is graduating. Congratulations?" "His sentence was suspended so he can graduate", "We deserve a rape free campus". 

According to reports by HeraldLive, the group was protesting about an alleged rapist graduating.

NMU spokesperson Zandile Mbabela told News24 that there had been no disruptions to the ceremony. She said the protesters simply went to the front of the hall and held up their placards.

In a statement, NMU Dean of Students Luthando Jack said that the University had not been immune to gender-based violence and that they had received reports of incidents involving students.

"During today's graduation sessions, a group of students staged a silent protest against the university's perceived failure in adequately dealing with reported cases of gender-based violence," Jack said.

"Chancellor Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi acknowledged the protest immediately thereafter and committed to following up on the issues raised."

According to Jack, members of university management had met with the protesting students between graduation sessions, with a view to engage on the issues raised.

"These engagements are set to continue in more detail, as the parties are finding each other on most of these issues."

"The university therefore acknowledges the silent protest by the students and encourages democratic agency and activism in pursuits for social justice, as the institution understands the role of activism towards building a humane and just society."

'Graduation of convicted rapist'

Jack conceded that their investigation capacity was still good enough, but said that they were working on bolstering it.

"The university thus commits to expedite its response to protection mechanisms as raised by the protesting students, while pursuing long-term effort towards the eradication of gender-based violence on university campuses."

Students at @MandelaUni held a silent protest today during graduation highlighting their concerns about what they say is an inaction of the Uni management to deal with rape culture #NMUGraduation pic.twitter.com/nshZcXjMhb

HeraldLive also reported that a group, which called itself Activist ConneXtions, had written a letter to the university on Wednesday stating that 10 cases of sexual harassment and sexual assault had been reported on the campus since the beginning of 2019.

The paper reported that the group wrote: "To date, these cases have not been investigated and no dockets have been opened at [the university’s] legal services. Applications for no-contact orders and summary suspensions have been stalled at legal and protection services, forcing victims to share the same space as their abusers on a daily basis.

"Activist ConneXctions can also confirm that it received news of the graduation of convicted rapist [from 2018] during the autumn graduation taking place between April 5 and 13 2019..."

Read more on:    nelson mandela university  |  port elizabeth  |  abuse
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