Zero-tolerance: Rhodes ‘excludes’ student rapist for 10 years

Rhodes University
Rhodes University

A final-year student has been academically excluded by Rhodes University for a decade after being found guilty of rape.

Rhodes University spokesperson Veliswa Mhlophe said the bachelor of commerce final-year student was directed by a three-member disciplinary board for sexual offences not to enter the university campus for the duration of the sentence.

“His academic record will also be endorsed as unsatisfactory. Any credits that he may obtain from any other university during his 10 years of exclusion will not be recognised by Rhodes University,” Mhlophe said.

She said the board had agreed with prosecution in its verdict that rape filled society with a sense of revulsion and undermined women’s equality and freedom.

The board stated that rape at a university undermined a woman’s ability to pursue her studies and obtain a qualification, which would then affect her future socioeconomic circumstances.

Mhlophe said the incident occured last year but would not divulge any other information saying it was a “sensitive matter.”

Rhodes University vice-chancellor Dr Sizwe Mabizela said the university had zero tolerance for sexual and gender-based violence.

“Our prosecution team had motivated for a permanent exclusion of the accused. In its wisdom, the board handed down a 10-year exclusion sanction. We welcome it. We hope such a sentence will serve as a deterrent to any would-be offender. We also hope that it will encourage all those who have experienced sexual or gender-based violence to report it so that action can be taken against perpetrators.”

Mabizela said reporting such offences was important in that it protected other members of the university community who would have fallen prey to the offender.

He said the university was grateful to the prosecution team led by Sue Smailes for the meticulous manner in which they investigated, presented the case and for the support and encouragement provided to the complainant.

Mabizela earlier this week briefed the institutional planning committee on the progress in the implementation of the 93 recommendations of the sexual violence task team.

Mhlophe said several recommendations were already under implementation.

She said a committee chaired by Mabizela had prioritised and categorised all recommendations into three interventions.

These included

• Education and enculturation;

• Review and alignment of policy and regulations; and

• A comprehensive approach to justice regarding gender-based violence.

The spokesperson said the university’s education, sensitisation and awareness-raising initiatives were aimed at ensuring that those who were willing and able to modify their behaviour and attitude towards sexual and gender-based violence were assisted to do so.

“There may be those who, despite all our efforts to persuade them to modify their behaviour or attitude do not change. For them, our message is simple: we will apprehend them, prosecute them to the full extent of our policies and remove them from our community,” Mhlophe said.

Rhodes University student representative council president Rolihlahla Mabaso said student leadership would meet and comment later.


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