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Exclusions for three Rhodes University students found guilty of assault

Date Released: Fri, 12 March 2010 12:15 +0200

Three Rhodes students who appeared before the University Proctor, Advocate Les Roberts SC, were this week found guilty on disciplinary charges of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, and attempted malicious damage to property.

After considering evidence and submissions on sentence from the defence and the prosecution, the Proctor imposed the following punishment on each of the students on 10 March 2010:

? Count 1: Assault with Intent to do Grievous Bodily Harm 

The students are excluded from the University until the end of the academic year 2010. In addition, the students will not receive recognition from Rhodes University for any credits they may complete at any other university during the period of exclusion.

? Count 2: Attempted Malicious Damage to Property

The students are to perform forty hours compulsory service, at the direction of the Registrar. The compulsory service is suspended until the end of any period that any of the students may be enrolled in future as students at Rhodes, on condition that they do not commit, during the period of suspension, any offence involving damage or attempted damage to property.

The students’ rights of review were explained to them and the exclusion under Count 1 is put on hold until any review process is completed.

The students must lodge a request for review within five days, should they wish to exercise this right.

The charges related to an incident that took on Prince Alfred Street in the early hours of 9 February 2010. The hearing started on 26 February 2010 and was concluded on 10 March 2010.

While the accused students were identified early on, it took about two weeks to fully investigate the case. Further, the hearings that commenced on 26 February were only concluded on 10 March as the case was postponed for about a week at the request of students, and adjourned once as the extent of the damage to property had to be further investigated.

The allegations were that the three students were walking up Prince Alfred Street in the vicinity of Nelson Mandela Hall. The students kicked several lamp poles as they passed by.

This was seen by an off-duty Rhodes Campus Protection Unit (CPU) guard, Mr David Douglas who was walking home from a social visit. Mr Douglas, who was not in uniform, informed the students that he was a security guard, and that they were in trouble.

They kept walking, and he grabbed hold of the belt of one of the students. The student wrenched himself free, whereupon the guard again grabbed hold of the belt. Once again the student wrenched himself free, this time with intervention from the other two students.

The guard then took out his mobile phone in order to call the CPU office for assistance. The phone was knocked out of his hand, and when he bent down to pick it up the three students kicked him repeatedly.

The three students pleaded guilty to the charge of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, and were convicted on the basis of their plea. They pleaded not guilty to the charge of malicious damage to property, claiming that their actions in kicking the lamp poles did not actually cause damage.

At the end of the trial the Proctor found that the evidence did not show clearly enough that the actions of the students had caused actual damage to the lights. The Proctor found, however, that the evidence did establish that the students had attempted to cause damage to the lights, and thus convicted them of attempted malicious damage to property.