UCT has the most cases
THE University of Cape Town (UCT), one of South Africa’s top-ranked universities, recorded the highest number of cases of rape and sexual assault incidents in 2017 – nine – followed by Walter Sisulu University with seven, the Tshwane University of Technology with six, Nelson Mandela University with five and the University of Johannesburg with four. Rhodes University and the University of the Western Cape each reported two incidents.
The University of the Witwatersrand, the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, the Durban University of Technology, North West University, the University of Pretoria and Unisa each reported one.
Another incident was reported last week, when a student was allegedly raped at Walter Sisulu University, resulting in a student boycott of classes in protest against the lack of safety on the campus.
In response to the crisis, University of Cape Town spokesperson Elijah Moholola said: “UCT is committed to fighting this scourge and, as an institution, we recognise our responsibility in dealing with and eliminating sexual assault and rape on campus.”
Moholola added that UCT had established the sexual assault response team, a multidisciplinary group of professionals, to address the culture of rape and gender discrimination. The Office for Inclusivity and Change (OIC) was also implementing programmes for gender-based violence prevention and sexual assault case management.
One of the OIC’s first measures was the development of a specialised sexual offences court at UCT, he said.
The Student Wellness Service also provided psychological support for students and the human resources department arranged trauma support and counselling for staff.
University of Pretoria spokesperson Rikus Delport said every student and staff member had the right to feel secure, both on and off campus.
“We are continually looking at ways in which we can improve our support, especially support of survivors, when such incidents occur. Most of our campuses and residences are access-controlled and have 24-hour security.
“We have appointed a former police sergeant, with about 16 years of experience in sexual assault and rape cases, to assist students and staff.
“As soon as a case is reported, the officer will immediately assist the victim by accompanying her or him to the closest designated crisis centre at a hospital. The officer, together with the university will support the victim throughout the process, including opening a police case, getting a psychologist involved and providing any other assistance,” he said.
Delport added that once a police case had been opened, the university would launch its own disciplinary process, independent of the police investigation, and a finding would be made in accordance with its policies and procedures. Depending on the nature of the incident, the accused would be suspended immediately, pending investigation. |