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Rhodes University announced on Thursday a final year Bachelor of Commerce student was this week excluded for 10 years from the university after being found guilty of rape.
A media statement on behalf of Rhodes University by the communications and advancement division said a three-member disciplinary board for sexual offences heard the case and directed the student not to enter the campus for the duration of his sentence, and his academic record would be endorsed as unsatisfactory.
“Any credits that he may obtain from any other university during his ten years of exclusion will not be recognised by Rhodes University,” read the statement.
The board, in its verdict, agreed with the prosecution that “rape filled society with a sense of revulsion and undermined women’s equality and freedom.”
The board further stated, “It follows that at a University, it undermines a woman’s ability to pursue her studies and obtain a qualification, affecting her future socio-economic circumstances.”
Rhodes University Vice Chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela, further commented that the university had a 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 ten-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 so that action can be taken against perpetrators. Reporting such offences is important in that it protects other members of our community who could have fallen prey to the offender,” said Dr Mabizela.
“We are grateful to our prosecution team, led by Ms Sue Smailes, for the meticulous manner in which they investigated and presented this matter and for the support and encouragement they provided the complainant,” said Dr Mabizela.
The university further stated that earlier this week, Dr Mabizela briefed the institutional planning committee on the progress in the implementation of the 93 recommendations of the sexual violence task team and that several recommendations were already under implementation.
“A committee chaired by Dr Mabizela has prioritised and categorised all the recommendations into three interventions, as follows: education and enculturation, review and realignment of policy and regulations, and a comprehensive approach to justice regarding gender-based violence,” said the university.
“Our education, sensitisation and awareness-raising initiatives are aimed at ensuring that those who are willing and able to modify their behaviour and attitude towards sexual/gender-based violence are 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.”
In April last year, students of Rhodes University took a tough stance against rape, protesting topless, and many took to social media to commend the protesters for the boldness of their gesture.
The protest action came after a list of rape-accused students was posted on social media. This lead protesters to scour campus for the accused and pull them out of their residences.
PJ Powers tweeted her support: “I am so inspired by this generation of SA students. Courageous young women at #Rhodes taking back their bodies & their voices.”
There were six students arrested during the rape protest after it culminated into a violent clash with police.
Police shot rubber bullets at students and threw teargas into crowds of protesting students, after the protesters barricaded the entrance to the university premises.