Frequently Asked Questions


Occasionally, Rhodes students get themselves into trouble with the police for a variety of reasons, most of which are alcohol-related. This pamphlet is intended to provide you with a clear summary of what your rights are.


If you are driving a vehicle, the police can ask you to stop, give your name and show your driver’s licence or ID book. You must do this. The police may ask for your full address if they suspect you of committing or being involved in a crime. Before you provide this information, you are entitled to ask the police for their name and ID document, and they should provide this information to you. You must then give your address. You do NOT have to answer any further questions. If the police ask you to go to the police station to make a statement, you can refuse to go, but they may then decide to arrest you.

If the police want to search you or take your property, you can demand to see their search warrant. They can normally only search the people or property mentioned in the warrant. However, the police have the right to search you if you are arrested, or if they have good grounds for thinking that a warrant would be granted because you are hiding evidence. Only policeMEN can search men, and policeWOMEN can search women.

Police and traffic officials can request a blood or breath sample from you once you are arrested, and it is an offence to refuse to co-operate.  A blood sample may only be taken by a registered nurse or medical practitioner. Police may also take your fingerprints, palm prints or photographs of you, and you must cooperate.


Police can only arrest you if they want to charge you and take you to court, or if you are a suspect. If they have a warrant, they are entitled to arrest you, but they can arrest you without a warrant if:

· they catch you while you are apparently committing a crime

· they suspect you of involvement in a crime, including a drug or liquor offence

· they think you have not paid a fine which the court ordered you to pay

· you are carrying a dangerous weapon without good reasons

If they ask you to accompany them to the police station and you agree, there is no need to arrest you. However, it is your right not to go with them unless they arrest you. If they arrest you, the police must tell you that you are under arrest, and must tell you what offence they think you have committed. Police CANNOT arrest you

just to scare you, or if there is no good reason to suspect that you committed an offence.


  1. You must be informed of the reason why you are being detained.
  2. No undue force should be used against you: if you do not resist or struggle, no physical control should be used against you.
  3. You must be taken straight to the police station
  4. You have the right to communicate with a person of your choosing (E.g. your warden, a parent, next-of-kin or legal practitioner)
  5. You do not have to answer any questions except to give your name and address
  6. You should be brought to court within 48 hours after arrest, or the first court day thereafter, if the 48 hours expires after normal court hours or over a weekend/public holiday.

If you are under the age of 18 years:

  • you should not be detained at all, and if you are, it should be for a short time only
  • you may be released into the care of your parents or guardian
  • you must be detained separately from adult detainees
  • you should be treated in a manner and kept in conditions that take account of your age


· Do not struggle or swear at the police

· Show your ID book and give your name

· Do not discuss your case with anyone or sign any statements

· Request to see a lawyer as soon as possible: you have a right to a legal representative to consult with and represent you if you go to trial


If the police arrest you, you can usually pay bail money and go home until the date of your court case. The amount depends on the severity of the alleged offence and the previous record of the detainee. You should inquire whether you can be released on warning, police bail or whether an after-hours prosecutor can determine a bail amount

After the court hearing you will get your bail money back, even if you are found guilty, unless you break bail conditions.


· You should request a copy of the SAPS docket before any trial takes place

· You are entitled to enough time to prepare your defence and to be present during the trial

· The trial should take place within a reasonable time-frame, and should be in a language which you understand (or with the help of a sworn interpreter)

· You have the right to remain silent and not to testify during the trial

· Nobody may force you to confess or admit to anything that could be used as evidence against you.

For further information see:


Who pays the Oppidan Levy?

All Oppidan students studying at Rhodes full time or part time and living off campus will pay the Oppidan Levy.


How is the Oppidan R170.00 Levy spent?*

1. The running and maintenance of the Oppidan Bus – free transport to student digs at night.

2. Funding of salaries of 6x sub-wardens who attend to:

- noise issues

- neighbour & landlord related complaints

- student crisis

- legal advice

3. Oppidan Common Room

- Tea & Coffee provided 2x daily


- Carpet & furniture cleaning 2x yearly

4. Promoting Team Oppi Sport

5. Promoting Oppidan Community Engagement

6. O-week activities including cheese & wines for new Oppies

7. Social activities incl. workshops/events eg. safety & security workshop/digs olympics/digs quiz

8. Flyers/Posters used in advertising of workshops/events

9. Telephone calls to first-year Oppies living far from campus (Grahamstown East) to establish their welfare (sub-warden telephone calls)

All Oppidans must pay regardless of whether they make use of any of the facilities or not.


What exactly is an ‘Oppidan’ and what are ‘digs’?

All students who do not live in a Rhodes residence are known as Oppidans, oppidan being the Old English for ‘town-dweller’, as in a student at Rhodes boarding in the town. Digs refers to the actual accommodation you will live in, which does not form part of the residence system. Over a thousand students live in digs, flats, or at home if they’re from Grahamstown and this number is growing every year. Rhodes has all but lost its residential nature as it struggles to house the growing number of students in residences, which still stands at just over half.

What is the Oppidan Committee and what do they do?

The Oppidan Committee is responsible for the Oppidan Hall activites and looks after the well-being of the Oppidans. The committee is comprised of Oppidan students and two Rhodes staff members, namely the Hall Warden and the Oppidan Secretary. The committee regularly meets to discuss issues facing Oppidans and possible solutions to those issues. The committee also looks after the entertainment side of Oppidan life from a University perspective. They organise Cheese and wines as well as other activites such as picnics in the Bot Gardens. They can be contacted by clicking here

How do I go about getting information regarding accommodation?

The Oppi Committee is available for information regarding accommodation. The most accessible person in the Committee is the Secretary,Mrs Karen Van Heerden, who can be contacted by e-mailing This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

There are also local estate agents who advertise accommodation through various local newspapers and there are various notice boards within Grahamstown and on Rhodes campus that frequently advertise. For those not willing to run around, Rhodes University has forums in which students frequently advertise accommodation. The Oppidan Website also hosts an updated accommodation list.

How much does accommodation usually cost?

Accomodation in Grahamstown can cost you anywhere between R1400.00 further out of town and from R2500.00 per room and up if you live in town.   You must be aware of extra charges that may be exclusive of rent. These are:

  • Lights and Water - budget between R200.00 to R300.00 per month for this.
  • Refundable Deposit – R1000 – This goes to the local municipality to have the electricity & water connected should the advert not indicate ‘pre-paid meter’. Students sharing a house would normally share this cost.

I have seen in some ads the phrases ‘Post Grad’ or ‘Mature student’ preferred. What does this mean?

‘Post Grad’ means that students who are doing either their honours or masters degrees are being sought for the house. Mature students would normally indicate students in their 3rd or 4th year of university or a student over 20 years of age.

Why do landlords advertise for a particular gender?

‘Preferably male’ or ‘preferably female’ would indicate a preference for male or female students, but is not ‘cast in stone’. What is probably the case, is that the house in question is already inhabited by either only men or women, in which case, the idea is to maintain the status quo with a view to ensuring comfort.

Is accommodation furnished?

Most of the houses are unfurnished and would indicate that there is no furniture in the house unless otherwise stated. Please check whether there is a stove and fridge. If not these would have to be bought. Should the advert state ‘partly’ furnished, please check with the landlord/lady or estate agent what furniture is provided.

Not all houses or flats have off street parking, so please check this as well.

And what about crime?

You never think it will happen to you until it does. Residents of Grahamstown tend to experience frequent break-ins, thus, it is advisable to have your belongings insured against theft. However most houses do have burglar bars and a security alarm and it would be advisable to check this when choosing a room, more especially should you bring a computer or an expensive music system when you come to Rhodes.

Where can I get legal assistance should I need it?

In the unfortunate incidence that you should require legal assistance or advice, our Sub-wardens also acts as legal ‘aid’ and are students studying law. They are available for giving legal advice with regards to sticky situations that may occur between you and your landlord or the estate agent, as well as between you and your neighbours.They can be contacted at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

I don’t own a car and need an indication as to how far is digs from campus roughly?

This varies tremendously. Walking comfortably to campus from digs can range from 15 minutes to 45 minutes, depending on the distance of digs. However, one important thing to consider when choosing accommodation is whether you have ‘dawnies’ (these are the 7:45 lectures) or late ‘pracs’ (some end after 17:00). Should you have a ½ hour walk to campus you would have to leave rather early and in winter or on a cold, rainy day this could be unpleasant!

The SRC does have a bus service and the Oppidans have their own bus that runs in the evening from the library. The operating times are 17h00 & 22:00. This service is generally for students working in the library and not a general bus service.

So I have chosen a flat, what do I do next?

Once you have chosen the flat or room you are interested in, contact the person whose name follows the advert. They will be able to tell you more about the accommodation offered. You would make arrangements with that person to sign the lease, pay the deposit (normally a month’s rental) and pay the monthly rental.

What other expenses am I likely to incur?

Basic survival costs would include:

  • Food
  • Laundry
  • Lights and water
  • Domestic help
  • Extra household expenses

With regard to food, Rhodes University does have the option of eating some meals in residence dining halls, but there are a limited number of vacancies. Oppidans also have their own dining hall. The meals are good value for money and a wide range of menus are offered. The person to contact about the cost and availability is Renette Kleinhans: +27 46 603 8608, or you can email

You can check out more information on booking meals in the Oppidan dining hall here.

And pets?

Some landlords do keep pets. Others still are not adverse to you owning one. If this is the case and you are aware of any allergies to pets you may have, it would be a good idea to check whether there are pets in the house or not.

Last Modified: Wed, 01 Aug 2018 09:31:52 SAST