During a period of less than several consecutive weeks there were reports of violent sexual assault in and around the University of Cape Town (UCT) every month from November 2015 to March 2016. Most of the incidences occurred around the Rhodes Memorial Area and one was reported having occurred on campus at UCT. Where the university sent a series of alert e-mails to students and reported the events to the police. #RhodesMustFall students took it upon themselves, on 9 February 2016, to have a peaceful protest from UCT campus to the police station against the inadequate protection of women against sexual violence and rape in the community of UCT (see link: https://www.facebook.com/events/242725826072123/). During which one of the protestors, a trans-woman, HeJin Kim said: “Let it be known that at UCT being a black female student means you’re unsafe.”
On 17 November 2015 the University of Cape Town issued an e-mail stating the following:
“UCT is aware of and has responded to the allegations of an alleged sexual assault/rape in a building on its campus early on Monday, 16 November 2015. We have activated the necessary support services to assist those involved in the incident. A charge has been laid with the police.”
Additionally during the week before commencement of lectures on 23 January another e-mail was sent to UCT students of a similar nature saying:
“A female student has reported that she was raped off campus near the Rhodes Memorial restaurant on Tuesday 19 January 2016 by an unidentified man…this incident follows a similar incident on 11 December 2015 when another female student reported that she was attacked and raped by an unidentified man when she walked from Rhodes Memorial towards UCT. This incident was reported to the UCT campus community at the time…The South African Police Services (SAPS) are investigating both cases.”
Furthermore on 5 February 2016 another e-mail informing students about another incident that read:
“…another female University of Cape Town student has been sexually assaulted while walking on the mountain towards Rhodes Memorial. This attack took place on Thursday night, 4 February 2016. It was reported to UCT’s Campus Protection Services (CPS) this morning by the SA Police Service (SAPS)…The student crossed the M3 bridge near Rhodes Avenue yesterday at about 18h00 and proceeded uphill towards Rhodes Memorial. On her way back at about 20h00 she was attacked and dragged into the bushes and raped repeatedly. She was eventually released at about 01h00 today, and she went to the SAPS. They are now investigating the case.”
UCT alerted students and informed them of the remedial actions against sexual violence that in collaboration with SAPS were taking place. However, nothing to curb the events of reoccurring rape in and around the vicinity of the university were being made. There were only provisions of counselling and alerts incorporated with the e-mails of reassurance. That advised students to:
- Be vigilant
- Avoid the Rhodes Memorial area
- Avoid walking alone at night
Despite the advice and collaborative efforts between SAPS and UCT to find the assailant-rapist. There was another incident on Tuesday evening, 8 March 2016. UCT sent out another e-mail reassuring the students they are doing everything in their power to provide counselling for the victim and assist SAPS with their investigation.
A suspect was arrested by SAPS in connection with rape incidences where according to a UCT e-mail update was apprehended “on the morning of Saturday, 12 March 2016, on Table Mountain. He appeared in Wynberg Court on Monday and the case was postponed until Friday, 18 March 2016. He remains in police custody.”
Strong emphasis was placed on students to take precautions when moving around or on campus. Without surveillance (by UCT or SAPS) of the affected areas where the attacks occurred. Ultimately, the students had to apply the necessary pressure to confront the issues of ineffective measures of protection. Protest action by the students was aimed at the police and university to utilize immediate and effective response to the full extent of the law to apprehend the assailant.Currently, the #Rhodesmustfall female students created a protest art, homage to rape survivours, of t-shirts with anti-rape phrases on clothes hanging on clothing lines across upper campus at UCT.
captured by author i.e. blogger