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Monday, May 17, 2021

Rhodes University: Students were expelled for criminal activity, not protests

Bonile Khanyi

Rhodes University has rubbished claims that it expelled two students for protesting against rape culture on campus.

On Tuesday the hashtag #RhodesWar trended after two young women accused the university of expelling them for their activism during the #RUReferenceList protest against rape culture held at the institution in April 2016. The university accused the young women of “cynical attempts at manipulating public opinion” saying it expelled them for committing criminal acts.

“There is a clear distinction between vigorously pursuing our common objective of eliminating sexual and gender-based violence on the one hand and using such a noble cause as a cover to commit acts of criminality, which serve to undermine a noble struggle,” the university said in a media statement.

According to media reports, the list contained names of 11 alleged sexual predators was circulated on social media, which sparked action from the students who went to seek out the perpetrators from their various residencies.

It is understood that some students allegedly dragged four other students suspected of sexual assault out of their dorm rooms and beat them with up empty water bottles.

According to the university, the students exhibited “conduct beyond lawful boundaries and amounted to common law offences”, which led to their expulsion on November 17 this year.

The students were found guilty of kidnapping, assault, defamation and insubordination.

The news sparked massive outrage on social media under #RhodesWar hashtag.

The Socio-Economic Rights Institute (Seri), acting on behalf of one of the activists, Yolanda Dyantyi, slammed the institution for imposing “the harshest penalty imposed for ten years”.

In a statement, Seri it would launch an application to the High Court to review and set aside the disciplinary proceedings brought against Dyantyi.

“SERI believes that the University’s treatment of Ms. Dyantyi has been disproportionate, unfair and unlawful,” the statement read.

Meanwhile, the deputy minister of higher education Buti Manamela said that he would look into the matter.

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