UNIZULU ABANDONS RAPE PROBE
The University of Zululand (UniZulu) has abandoned an internal investigation into two senior staff members implicated in the alleged rapes of a student, in three separate incidents.
One of the accused was a supervisor of the alleged victim, while the other was a head of department in the same faculty. Both their names are known to City Press but cannot be revealed because they have not appeared in court.
The alleged victim, who cannot be named to protect her identity, opened a case at Mtunzini Police Station in March this year. She told City Press the alleged rapes happened in 2015 when she was an honours student and in 2016 when she was a master’s student.
She said her fears for her safety had led her to leave the institution last year. She had since registered with another university.
Empangeni family violence, child protection and sexual offences unit commander Colonel Makhosi Ncube confirmed that a case had been opened. She said the Public Prosecutor was scheduled to meet with the alleged victim and would then decide whether to prosecute or not.
The student said she was raped twice by her honours degree supervisor in 2015; the first time on campus and the second at her flat when the accused visited her under false pretences.
“I reported the matter to the university and nothing happened. I did not receive any assistance and the matter was not attended to. I became a laughing stock in the entire department.
“I suffered humiliation and victimisation. The year passed and I graduated regardless of the situation,” she said, adding that her alleged rapist taunted her, boasting that his boss “was an old friend from the same university and country” and would not act against him.
Last year, after registering for her master’s degree at UniZulu, the head of department called her into his office to enquire about the 2015 incident.
“He told me straight that he would not entertain the sexual allegations ... Instead, I should appreciate being pursued by them because they were highly educated people,” she said, adding that he then offered her R100 000 and said she should “disappear”. She said the man then threatened to kill her, pour acid over her corpse and burn it beyond recognition. As he was saying this, she alleged, “he started touching me, saying he could see what his friend was seeing in me. He said he also found me highly sensual and attractive. He then forced himself on me and started strangling me.” It was at this point that the key witness – who was fired by the university this year – walked in. She said this gave her a chance to break free and run away, leaving the two men fighting. She reported the matter to vice-chancellor Xoliswa Mtose. “While I was in her office, she made an oath to counsel me since she was a psychologist by profession. She asked me not to tell anyone, including the police since it may damage my name and her name,” she said.
She said Mtose promised an internal investigation and that the matter would then be reported to the police. Mtose allegedly described the accused to the student as powerful and influential at the university. The student said the internal investigation only consulted the accused. Together with her family, she was called to meetings twice, but they were never attended to, she said.
UniZulu spokesperson Gcina Nhleko confirmed that the institution was aware of the allegations. However, she denied that the alleged victim had been excluded from the internal investigation and said she chose not to cooperate. She said the student’s family also pleaded with the institution not to proceed with the investigation.
Nhleko also denied that Mtose had offered to counsel the alleged victim. She said the student was counselled within the institution but stopped attending after a few sessions.
“In the absence of credible evidence, which was not forthcoming, the allegations could not be probed any further,” Nhleko emphasised, adding that the victim was never refused the right to finish her master’s degree.
DENIALS Professor Xoliswa Mtose