#RapeAtJunction: Students say management has not done enough

    Students at Wits University have claimed that a female student was raped at a campus residence, and despite reporting it, management has not done enough to pursue justice for the survivor.

    According to the chairman of the Wits Junction residence, Nkululeko Tselane, the student who was raped at the residence three weeks ago filed a complaint about the incident but nothing was done, forcing her to live on the same property as her perpetrator.

    “Management said they would remove the perpetrator but they changed their decision and last Friday she tried to commit suicide,” he said.

    He said this was the main issue because the survivor was bumping into her perpetrator in the hallways at the res, adding to the trauma she had faced already.

    He said the incident was reported to Wits management, the Gender Equity Office, the Senior Executive Team and res security.

    Tselane said the student had not reported the incident to police as she is not from South Africa, and  was making plans to leave the country on Thursday. She was worried that she would need to come back to assist with the case, but wanted to leave and for the matter to be over.

    On Wednesday night, students protested at the res and sought to evict the alleged perpetrator themselves. The student left the res, allegedly protected by police and campus security.

    “Last night students demanded he leave res so I don’t know where he is now,” she said.

    Tselane said they were told by management to be sensitive as the perpetrator was submitting research and they should be sensitive “to the fact that there was still an investigation going on and that the rape was not violent. I don’t know what that means,” said Tselane.

    In a video circulating on Twitter, Director of Campus Housing and Residence Life, Rob Sharman was seen addressing angry students and called the incident one of “sexual harassment”.

    Building manager, Thokozani Manyange is also recorded as saying, “If you knew the details of the matter you would not feel unsafe”.

    In a statement, Wits spokesperson Shirona Patel confirmed that the university received a complaint about an alleged rape at the Wits Junction residence complex recently and said the matter is being investigated by the Gender Equity Office.

    “The university has worked with the complainant for the last few weeks and the nature of this engagement is confidential,” she said.

    She said that the university has a zero tolerance approach to sexual violence and harassment, which cannot be achieved if people don’t lay complaints. She acknowledged the existence of rape culture in South Africa, and said, “there are many victims that we do not know about”.

    The university’s Sexual Harassment Advisory Committee has committed to holding to account “anyone who has stood in the way of justice or minimised rape in any way”.

    She said that associate professor Bonita Meyersfeld and other members of the Sexual Harassment Advisory Committee to the Gender Equity Office will be addressing the outgoing and incoming House Committees at the Wits Junction Residence Complex at 5pm on Thursday.

    Featured image by Shaazia Ebrahim