News24

Gang-rape: Students march

2004-08-18 15:01

Cape Town - More than 2 000 Rhodes University students in Grahamstown marched on campus on Wednesday to raise awareness of violence against women and the lack of security on campus.

Dominic White, vice-president of the Student Representative Council told News24 students decided to march in reaction to the gang-rape of a woman student during the recent tri-varsity weekend between students of the universities of Rhodes, Port Elizabeth and Fort Hare.

The 18-year-old student who was raped during the weekend's tri-varsity competition was walking from the Rhodes Union to New Street on Saturday night when she was attacked by two men.

She was then dragged to some bushes where three other men were waiting. She was pinned down by two of the men while the other three took turns raping her.

Demands for increased security

The students marched from the library to the administration building, where they handed over a letter to administration staff stating their demands for increased security on campus.

This document contained details of what students believed went wrong during the tri-varsity. It also stated how students felt the university should move forward in preventing such an incident from happening again.

White said security measures curerntly included security guards deployed on campus and "green zones" along which students could safely move at night.

Current measures insufficient

However, these measures proved to be insufficient to prevent the shocking incident. In addition, lighting on campus was poor.

In response, the administration has decided to take the following steps to address the security problem:

  • A high-level task team has been appointed to investigate events that occurred during the Tri-Varsity weekend.
  • The enquiry will result in a report, to be tabled within two weeks, that will detail responsibilities and highlight areas of concern for the University community.
  • A second task of this team will be to look at the ongoing issues of safety on campus and will report on this, with recommendations by the middle of September for immediate implementation.
  • Police will have access to the campus as from Wednesday night.
  • Emergency telephones will be installed on campus before the end of the year.
  • Administration will be open to any other viable suggestions by students. These would be implemented at the beginning of the next academic year.

    Meanwhile, the Student Representative Councils of both Rhodes University and the University of Port Elizabeth have issued a joint statement strongly condemning the gang-rape.

    Rhodes's vice-chancellor has also received the full co-operation of the vice-chancellor of the University of Port Elizabeth regarding the investigation of the rape.

    On the net:

  • Rhodes administration's statement
  • Rhodes SRC's security proposal