UNIZULU ABAN­DONS RAPE PROBE

CityPress - - News - MSINDISI FENGU msindisi.fengu@city­press.co.za

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

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