A final year Bachelor of Commerce student was this week excluded for 10 years from Rhodes University after being found guilty of rape.
A three member Disciplinary Board for Sexual Offences which heard the case further directed the student not to enter the University campus for the duration of his sentence. His academic record will also be endorsed as unsatisfactory. Any credits that he may obtain from any other University during his ten years of exclusion will not be recognised by Rhodes University.
In its verdict, the Board agreed with the prosecution that rape filled society with a sense of revulsion and undermined women’s equality and freedom. “It follows that at a University it undermines a woman’s ability to pursue her studies and obtain a qualification, affecting her future socio-economic circumstances,” the Board stated.
Commenting on the outcome of the case, Rhodes University Vice Chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela, said the University had a zero-tolerance for sexual and gender-based violence. “Our prosecution team had motivated for a permanent exclusion of the accused. In its wisdom, the Board handed down a ten-year exclusion sanction. We welcome it. We hope such a sentence will serve as a deterrent to any would-be offender. We also hope that it will encourage all those who have experienced sexual or gender-based violence to report so that action can be taken against perpetrators. Reporting such offences is important in that it protects other members of our community who could have fallen prey to the offender,” said Dr Mabizela.
“We are grateful to our prosecution team, led by Ms Sue Smailes, for the meticulous manner in which they investigated and presented this matter and for the support and encouragement they provided the complainant,” said Dr Mabizela.
Earlier this week, Dr Mabizela briefed the Institutional Planning Committee on the progress in the implementation of the 93 recommendations of the Sexual Violence Task Team. Several recommendations are already under implementation.
A committee chaired by Dr Mabizela has prioritised and categorised all the recommendations into three interventions, as follows: education and enculturation, review and realignment of policy and regulations, and a comprehensive approach to justice regarding gender-based violence. Our education, sensitisation and awareness-raising initiatives are aimed at ensuring that those who are willing and able to modify their behaviour and attitude towards sexual/gender-based violence are assisted to do so. There may be those who, despite all our efforts to persuade them to modify their behaviour or attitude do not change. For them, our message is simple: we will apprehend them, prosecute them to the full extent of our policies and remove them from our community.