Society failed Khensani by raising men who don't know how to respect women - Rhodes VC

Society failed Khensani Maseko by raising young men who do not know how to love, respect and treat women, Rhodes University Vice Chancellor Sizwe Mabizela said on Tuesday. 

"Khensani did not deserve to die under the circumstances which she did," Mabizela said. 

Mabizela was addressing a packed hall at the Settlers Monument in Grahamstown on Tuesday where hundreds of students, parents, and officials marched in honour of Maseko. 

The march was planned by university management and the student representative council (SRC) to honour the third-year Bachelor of Arts student who took her own life on Friday after battling with depression following an alleged rape said to have occurred in May.

READ: Rhodes students plan to march for Khensani Maseko

Mabizela said patriarchy and misogyny were part of society and were not being given due attention when witnessed.

Mabizela added that Maseko's death should not be in vain, and that this marked a significant turning point at the university. He said the university and society should double efforts to eradicate gender-based violence.

Several students and members of the public were given the opportunity to speak, and the overwhelming theme was that everyone had had enough of gender-based violence. 

"Let us not unite only when there are issues and incidents such as that of Khensani's death. Let us unite when it is also good times, so that we may fight gender-based violence and not allow it to reach this end," a parent said.

SRC student advisor Eric Ofei said Maseko had been an ambitious student who wanted to run for SRC office in her first year. He added that she also wanted to be "Miss South Africa" one day. 

'Your silence bothers me. Doesn't it bother God?'

Another SRC student advisor said students should open up to others when faced with problems. 

"We need to do better, guys. For every student who is hurting, who is going through stuff... Please find help," said the teary SRC advisor called "Ms K". 

READ: Rhodes University issues notice to suspend Khensani Maseko's alleged rapist

Several students also recited poetry. 

On Monday, Mabizela lowered the university's flag in memory of Maseko. The flag will fly at half-mast until her funeral.

Maseko's family previously confirmed that she had committed suicide.

"On Friday, 3 August, 2018, Khensani passed away by taking her own life, devastating her family, friends and the larger community of colleagues and peers. As a family, we do not take lightly the circumstances leading up to Khensani's death.

"We would like to explicitly express that we condemn, in the strongest possible terms, any form of violence and abuse against women and more particularly, rape against women. We urge that the law should be allowed to take its course," the family said in a statement.

Maseko will be buried on Thursday, according to the family.

The university earlier revealed it had issued a notice to suspend Maseko's alleged rapist.

"A notice to suspend the alleged perpetrator was issued this morning, on the day when Khensani was due to meet with the support and an investigation team. The tragic passing of Khensani will not mark an end to the investigation into the circumstances leading up to her passing."

Mhlope said on Monday that the university was working with the police and the National Prosecuting Authority, and was pushing for an inquest to be held into Maseko's death.

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