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Rhodes University pushes for an inquest, substitutes academic programme following death of a student
Rhodes University pushes for an inquest, substitutes academic programme following death of a student
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Rhodes University pushes for an inquest, substitutes academic programme following death of a student

Date Released: Mon, 6 August 2018 18:45 +0200

Rhodes University Vice Chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela, lowered the University flag this morning in commemoration of third year Bachelor of Arts student, Khensani Maseko’s tragic passing on Friday, 03 August 2018. The flag will fly at half-mast until her funeral.

Khensani passed away after reporting on Monday 30 July, a rape which allegedly took place in May. The University immediately made contact with her family and they travelled the next day from Johannesburg to Grahamstown for a meeting where they elected to take Khensani home for a while. It was also agreed at the meeting that Rhodes University will follow up on the matter.

Khensani was due to return to the University for a meeting with the support and investigation team today. The University, working with the South African Police (SAPS) and the National Prosecuting Authority, is pushing for an inquest into Khensani’s death. A notice to suspend the alleged perpetrator was issued this morning, on the day when Khensani was due to meet with the support and an investigation team.

The tragic passing of Khensani will not mark an end to the investigation into the circumstances leading up to her passing.

The University’s academic programme was today substituted by a jointly conceived alternative programme of awareness-raising and education on sexual/gender-based violence in order to allow the University community time to mourn and to provide counselling and other interventions. Additional counsellors were mobilised to ensure that those who have been triggered by the incident are offered the necessary support.

Formal assessments such as tests, practicals and assignments will be rescheduled for next week.

A multi-stakeholders University community team was set up to develop an ongoing programme to raise awareness and refine ongoing strategies to mainstream and to strengthen the fight against gender-based violence at the University.

On Tuesday, 07 August, a march to the Settlers Monument is planned. The monument is where the University traditionally holds its graduation ceremonies and where Khensani would have rounded off her journey through Rhodes University. The issue of sexual consent will be discussed in a series of talks tomorrow, which will be open to everyone on campus.

While the support operations will continue, where possible, staff are encouraged to participate in the planned programme over the next few weeks.

“As the Rhodes University community, we are deeply saddened by Khensani’s passing and would like to extend our sincerest condolences to her family, loved ones, and everyone that knew her. Her death underlines the pervasive scourge of gender-based violence in our society. We have been robbed of an amazing young woman who was destined to make a significant impact on our society and beyond. We hope that this tragic incident will allow the University an opportunity to reflect and to engage, even deeper, on how we must pull together as a University and society to eliminate the scourge of gender-based violence once and for all. This is the most fitting and lasting tribute we can give Khensani,” said Dr Mabizela.

PLEASE NOTE: The Maseko family has brought it to the attention of the University that some people have been phoning Khensani’s close family relatives and friends looking for information around her passing. The University urges all concerned to respect the family and to allow them time to mourn the passing of Khensani.