#RhodesWar: Students head to High Court over 'lifetime expulsion'

2017-12-12 17:51
Yolanda Dyantyi, 20, who was expelled for life from Rhodes University in November plans to appeal her disciplinary outcome in the Grahamstown High Court. (Supplied)

Yolanda Dyantyi, 20, who was expelled for life from Rhodes University in November plans to appeal her disciplinary outcome in the Grahamstown High Court. (Supplied)

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Cape Town – The two students expelled for life from Rhodes University are planning on appealing the university's decision in the high court in Grahamstown.

The students were banned for life by a university disciplinary committee on November 17 and will be unable to complete their studies at the institution.

The disciplinary committee found them guilty of kidnapping, assault, defamation and insubordination relating to a wave of protests against rape culture on campus in 2016.

The protests escalated when a group of female students allegedly took matters into their own hands and dragged four students suspected of sexual assault out of their dorm rooms.

Rhodes University has maintained that their expulsion was not related to the protest action, but to "unlawful acts" which "made serious inroads into the rights and liberties of others".

However, speaking to News24 on Tuesday afternoon final year BA-student Yolanda Dyantyi, 20, said the disciplinary action was "grossly unfair" and biased against her.

She said lawyers from Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa were set to file appeal papers on her behalf in the high court in Grahamstown "within the next few weeks".

"They (Rhodes University) are proving our point; they are proving our point for the very reason that we took to the streets on that night," a disgruntled Dyantyi said.

"You know, Rhodes just doesn't care about women, it doesn't care about black women, it stands against rape culture and wanting to combat [rape culture]."

'Misrepresentations of facts'

Dyantyi said she was refused the opportunity to testify despite religiously attending disciplinary hearings.

"My co-accused, she got a chance to testify, got cross-examined and also cross-examined the evidence that has been brought against her.

"But by the time it was my turn, the university just said that I didn't want to testify. Which is absurd, why would I go to these hearings the entire six months and at the final end not to testify?"

Meanwhile, in a brief statement on Tuesday, Rhodes University said it was deeply concerned about the "misrepresentations of facts and cynical attempts at manipulating public opinion".

"There is a clear distinction between vigorously pursuing our common objective of eliminating sexual and gender-based violence on the one hand and using such a noble cause as a cover to commit acts of criminality, which serve to undermine a noble struggle," the statement reads.

The institution said it would release a "comprehensive response in relation to all the issues raised will be issued as a matter of urgency".

Dyantyi said that while it had been difficult to accept the university's decision she was overwhelmed by the support she had received.

"Right now my future is uncertain, the fact that I can't even appeal internally is unfair, it's biased. But yeah, I am hoping... I have to hope for the best," she said.

Read more on:    rhodes university  |  sexual abuse  |  university protests  |  education

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