Rhodes University has denied that two students were expelled from the university as a result of their involvement in the 2016 #RUReference list protests.
The anonymous list, which circulated on social media, named alleged perpetrators of rape and sexual misconduct.
“While the two recently excluded students did indeed take part in the protest, their participation in the protest had nothing to do with the charges against them and/or with their exclusion from the university,” the university said in a statement.
A disciplinary hearing found the girls guilty of assault, kidnapping, insubordination and defamation, after their involvement in the widespread protests on campus last year.
One of the girls, Yolanda Dyantyi, is now being represented by the Socio-Economic Rights Institute and is now launching an application to the high court to review and set aside the disciplinary hearings which were brought against her.
“The institute believes that the university’s treatment of Dyantyi has been disproportionate, unfair and unlawful,” the institute said.
Dyantyi’s future now remains uncertain following her expulsion, and the university has listed her disciplinary offences on her transcript.
“In setting out the offences of which she has been found guilty, the transcript will effectively prevent her from registering elsewhere. The institute has advised Dyantyi that this sanction is wholly unreasonable and unlawful.”
The university remains adamant that the charges do not relate to the protest.
“Protest is a constitutionally protected right. Rhodes policy upholds this right and the university has never and will never charge anyone for protesting lawfully,” the university said.
Following the protests which occurred on campus last year, a sexual violence task team was set up by the university “to investigate and make recommendations in respect of a counter-culture to rape at the university”.
A report containing more than 90 recommendations was submitted.
The university maintained that it was against gender-based violence, and that it had put in place support structures to deal with incidents of rape and gender violence incidents.
“Three male students have during this year been excluded for rape – two permanently and one for 10 years. The university had strenuously, albeit unsuccessfully, argued for a harsher sentence in the latter case,” the university said.
“Contrary to claims made on social media, no student who has been found guilty of rape has ever been allowed to remain on campus,” the statement said.