Students have alleged that law enforcement officials raped and further sexually assaulted a student at the Pietermaritzburg campus of the University Kwazulu-Natal on Monday night. We spoke to Pumelela Nqelenga, from the School of Arts, who was one of the first people to draw attention to the incident, for more information. This is what she said:
“On Tuesday morning, a group of staff members wanted to protest outside the Risk Management Services, which is like the campus security. The student, I can’t name the student due to the situation, came up to us while we were busy getting ourselves ready – there were about four or five of us staff members at the time – she literally just walked up to us. We thought she was going to tell us what’s happening, and she was going to ask us questions about our protest, but she was actually waiting outside for an ambulance.
We asked her why she was waiting for an ambulance and she said that’s when she told us she she was raped the night before by an SAPS member.
She told me firstly they had assaulted her when they were removing her – I think they were inside the residence that she was in – and then they were trying to get her out. I don’t know exactly where the rape happened. Either, it was in a van or in her room, I can’t really clarify on that. What I do remember her saying is when they were pushing her away, they were holding her genitals while they were doing this. And then, one of the police, it was the driver of the van, she’s got the registration of the van, is the one who raped her.
There is no official report to the police. We are waiting for the survivor to have agency to see what she wants to do. At the moment she is at the hospital and she is getting herself tested. She is the one who is going to choose the way forward.
At the moment we’re drafting a letter from the concerned staff to the University and its going to go straight to the vice-chancellor.
We are hoping to meet tomorrow so we can actually have a way forward. There is no clarity, we are just hoping that the students are not getting hurt. As far as I know, in one of the residences, one of our students is stuck in a toilet because they are scared of the teargas and the shooting. Two students are at RMS, campus security, they need to go to hospital and staff members are taking them.
I think the way the university has handled the situation is very bad. There are three campus securities here, there’s RMS, there’s Mi7 (private security company) and there’s the South African Police. None of them are protecting the students. It looks quite volatile, it feels as if they are antagonising the students. There’s no sense of direction even from the students, it’s all a mess. And all we’re trying to do as the staff is to make sure there’s no violence on campus, that everyone on campus is safe, this is our aim. And that the South African Police and Mi7 – they need to get out of this campus because they are antagonising the students as far as I can see.”
Editor’s note: Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane, spokesperson for the SAPS in Kwazulu Natal, told The Daily Vox, “We have not received any report regarding the alleged rape incident.”