In the wake of the abductions and murders of women being highlighted in media in recent weeks, university students took it upon themselves to speak out against the violence and fear they experience on and near their campuses. Over the past few weeks, four universities: Stellenbosch University, University of Limpopo (UL) Durban University of Technology (DUT), and Wits University have protested for women’s safety in public spaces. The Daily Vox rounds up what went down at each march.
After the hijacking, abduction, and rape of University of Stellenbosch student Hannah Cornelius on Saturday morning, students have rallied together and will host a mass meeting to address the on safety of women on campus. They are also hosting a vigil but the date is yet to be confirmed.
— Julian Jansen (@JulianJansen) May 28, 2017
The university issued a statement, passing their condolences on to the family of the victim, but haven’t yet undertaken any efforts to improve security around the campus. The university was not available for comment at the time of publishing.
SRC spokesperson, Kumva Somdyala said the university hasn’t taken the issue of safety as seriously as they should have, and that “it was sad it had to come to this.”
University of Limpopo
On Sunday, students from UL marched from the university to the police station where they handed over a memorandum demanding safety of students in and around campus on Sunday. Sasco treasurer at the university, Mmabatho Kgomoeswana, said she did not feel safe because violations of women were happening on campus, in front of security.
Police spokesperson, Motlafela Majapelo confirmed the march and said they had taken into account the abductions around the country and increased patrols around campuses. However, he made it clear that everyone was responsible for their own safety.
Durban University of Technology
On Wednesday, 24 May, DUT students, mostly affiliated to Sasco, held a march calling for increased security in and around campuses . About 200 students joined the march. One student, Sinoxolo Mahlalitshana, told The Daily Vox she didn’t feel safe being around campus or her the residence because of the incidents happening around her university.
Sasco General Secretary at DUT, Mqondisi Duma, said the organisation condemned any form of abuse and violence against women.
The university released a statement saying they were concerned about the recent criminal activities occurring around its campuses. They also said they were increasing security in campus and will liaise with police to keep students safe.
On Wednesday, 24 May, Wits students marched to the Nelson Mandela Bridge in Braamfontein, where they stopped traffic and clashed with security who tried to stop them from gathering in the road.
— Mihlali Ntsabo (@_Mihlali_) May 24, 2017
Former SRC secretary general Fasiha Hassan said they held the demonstration to say enough is enough. “We are not safe as women on our own campus but when you step out you are kidnapped.” She added that as much as abductions and violence against women are in the media all the time, it was not normal. “We seem to have normalised hearing about gruesome attacks of women and marginalised people particularly LGBTQIA+ community,” she said.
The university sent an email to students saying that security had been increased along the perimeters of all campuses and external residences.