Stellenbosch medical student arrested after claims he assaulted female student

People of the Eersterust community during the Stop Violence Against Women March in Pretoria.
People of the Eersterust community during the Stop Violence Against Women March in Pretoria.
Alet Pretorius
  • Stellenbosch University has suspended a final year medical student over claims that he sexually harassed and assaulted a fellow student.
  • Western Cape police have since arrested the 26-year-old man on charges of sexual and common assault.
  • The university's senior director of student affairs, Dr Choice Makhetha, says they will act decisively against anyone found guilty of gender-based violence and sexual harassment.

A final year medical student was arrested on Thursday amid investigations into claims that he assaulted a fellow student on campus.

Western Cape police confirmed a 26-year-old man faced charges of sexual assault and common assault. He will appear in court on Friday.

Almost 25 000 people had signed a petition by Thursday calling for police to arrest the suspect.

It is alleged that she had asked him to stop touching her inappropriately and slapped him after her pleas were apparently ignored.

"The next moment... his hands were on my throat," the third-year medical student, who sported a black eye, shared on social media.

"... I realised that it's beyond 'you hit me, I hit you back' because you know I am not capable of doing as much harm as you can do to me... and even though we were both pinned to the ground at some point, he still didn't let go."

The assault allegedly occurred at the Ubuntu House residence on the Tygerberg campus in the early hours of Saturday.

University spokesperson Martin Viljoen said the student was temporarily suspended on Sunday pending a disciplinary investigation.

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The university's Disciplinary Committee was in the process of holding a confirmation of suspension hearing.

Viljoen did not confirm when this hearing would take place.

"The male student is no longer in his residence or on campus. Further steps will follow, based on the outcome of the disciplinary investigation."

The "Anti GBV Movement SU" group claimed that the university had failed to offer support and was not taking the matter seriously.

Viljoen said this was not true and the student was receiving counselling and further support.

READ | 3 GBV bills to be introduced to Parliament by August

The university's senior director of student affairs, Dr Choice Makhetha, said they were committed to creating an environment free of gender-based violence.

"The university will act firmly and decisively against any person who is guilty of any form of gender-based violence and sexual harassment.

"Many of you have written to me personally about this incident and want to assure you that we are attending to this matter with the highest attention."

The suspect was expected to appear in the Bellville Magistrate's Court on Friday.

Anyone in need of assistance can contact the university's Centre for Student Counselling and Development on the Tygerberg campus at 021 938 9590 and on 021 808 4994 for the Stellenbosch campus during office hours. The 24-hour crisis service is available at 010 205 3032.

Anyone with information about the incident can contact investigating officer Detective Sergeant MD Khumalo on 021 929 7117 or Crime Stop on 08600 10111. 

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